ImpactSpring 2014

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Fellowship program helps students apply their skills to help feed the city

Urban-FoodThrough the Indy Food Fellows program, students are enhancing their résumés and getting some practical experience in the environmental science field. They also are playing an integral role in improving the health of the Indianapolis food system. Made possible by a grant from the Eroymson Family Fund, Indy Food Fellows offers college students a yearlong fellowship. UIndy fellows this year are Allie Kast (right), an international relations major, and Lauren Joyal, an environmental science and sustainability major. “The Indy Food Fellows is part of the new Indy Food Council,” Allie says. “It has four aspects—ecology, nutrition, hunger, and community development.”

Providing students with the resources necessary to address these four areas are sponsor organizations that also work to address environmental issues. Lauren’s working with Big Car, a local arts organization; Allie is working with the Global Peace Initiative. UIndy professor Kevin McKelvey is the coordinator for a new environmental sustainability major at UIndy, and he has contributed to the development of the Indy Food Fellows program. “I use my community contacts in Indianapolis to create course projects that will engage students in professional experiences outside the classroom and the University,” McKelvey says. “Our Indy Food Fellows will be working with and learning from professionals in urban agriculture and sustainability.”

It’s all about the transformations

Three years ago, McKelvey worked with Lauren’s sponsor, Big Car, to replace an old parking lot in order to make an abandoned tire shop environmentally friendly. They transformed it into the Service Center for Contemporary Culture and Community. The Center is dedicated to improving the Lafayette Square neighborhood of Indianapolis and is a grassroots hub for art, culture, education, health, and inclusion. Lauren will work at the Center for the duration of her fellowship, expanding their garden. “I have to come up with ways to use the produce they have,” Lauren says, “as well as ways to involve Big Car in the community. Some of the produce goes to the local restaurants and some goes to people who visit or are in need. “I’m hoping to expand the program and I want to grow more crops and involve more organizations, teaching them about organic gardening and how to support environmental health through interactive programs.”

Help the community, find a career path

Allie hopes to use her experience with the Global Peace Initiative to help her find a career. “I heard about the program through my advisor, who thought it would be a great opportunity for me because of my interest in sustainability,” she says. “I want to expand my knowledge and passion for sustainable living and be able to use what I learn.” Allie wants to work in international environmental policy after graduation and eventually lead a global environmental nonprofit. Like Allie, Lauren hopes that the program will help her to decide how to use her areas of study in her future career. “I have a deep interest in anything that will help our environment,” Lauren says. “This program is all about making the public aware of the struggles we face with our food systems and how to combat them. “Food Fellows is my way of discovering what exactly I want to do with my degrees. It is a way for me to get some real-world experience while also doing good for my community. “But, with a little luck, maybe I can find the perfect fit for myself in the field and meet some great people along the way.”

—Ariana Gainer ’14

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