The issue of food insecurity has long been on the minds of those who live in Southern Vermont. In fact, Bennington County has been identified by the USDA as a “food desert”, meaning significant portions of its residents have limited access to healthy or locally-produced food. This course, the first in a sequence of three, will explore and review past initiatives, best practices in rural areas, and new research on the state of food insecurity in Bennington County and its reach as a systemic problem. The second course (Fall 2020) will develop coordinated engagement mechanisms and develop new strategies in response to the research and outreach; the third (Fall 2021) will focus on the implementation and assessment of new initiatives. Students enrolling in this course are not committed to enrolling in the subsequent courses.
As part of a grant from the Mellon Foundation on the topic of Food Insecurity, this centerpiece course will be designed by Bennington faculty as well as participants from Southwestern Vermont Health Care, Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, and Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services, to ensure both a shared vision for the larger curriculum and bi-directional knowledge creation. It will serve as a generative structure, helping to determine not only the shape and scope of at the larger food studies/systems curriculum, but also a range and number of co-curricular and community-based learning opportunities for students as well as opportunities to bring local partners into the classroom. The course will be advertised and open (free of charge) to members of the larger community who wish to enroll, enriching discussions on food insecurity and promoting the practice of the socially-engaged humanities.