Food Tomfoolery on Eleven: Considerations for Consideration

On Tuesday, faculty will come together at 30 East Lake Street for HW Faculty Development 2014. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, our excellent CAST leadership, Megan Ritt and Andrew Cutcher, have arranged (like John and Gitte in the past) for boxed lunches. Only on Friday will we have to brown bag it. And, I’m not complaining. Food is expensive.

I’ve written a few posts this year, and I’ve mentioned how grateful I am for the sabbatical I have been on and the research I have been able to undertake and write about. I am grateful for past (and current) union leadership who have laid the groundwork for the concentrated (and paid) professional development sabbaticals provide. I would not have been able to eat without earning my salary while on sabbatical.

On Monday, August 25, I, like my colleagues, will greet new students, and in my ENG 101s, I will use the course I designed two years ago. The theme of the course is food, and in it my students begin by learning about food deserts in Chicago. No, not sweet desserts that follow a meal, but food deserts–the places in the city of Chicago that Mari Gallagher made noticeable with her research.

Ever hear of a food desert? A food deserts is a place where access to fresh produce and meats, like those found in a supermarket, are miles away. You might live in one. Our students live in food deserts. Our employees live in food deserts. Regardless of access to food, or even with access, some people can’t afford it.

In 2013, the Mayor’s office released data suggesting that 400,000 people in Chicago live in a food desert with the nearest grocery store 1/2 a mile away. And still, putting grocery stores closer to those who live in food deserts doesn’t put money in their pockets to buy food. I’m sure the content of this post comes as no surprise to most, especially educators in the CCC system.

If you’ve read your CCC e-mail recently, you may have noticed the announcement regarding stolen lunches on the 11th floor. In the e-mail, it states, “Please be aware that theft is an offense punishable by termination,” and while I agree with the e-mail, I found myself wondering, or better yet trying to understand, why someone would steal food from the break room?

If whomever is stealing food is hungry, then stealing the food isn’t the crime. If a member of our HW community is hungry, what can we do about it? What should we do about it? What can we do about it? We can be complacent, and we can enforce rules that deny the nuances of the situation, or we can see this for a problem that plagues our city and our college and strive to solve the problem. We can start in our own community at HW.

One thought on “Food Tomfoolery on Eleven: Considerations for Consideration

  1. Agreed KB. If someone in our community is hungry we should have some sort of system in place to ensure that they have something to eat. I keep a store of food in my office (crackers, pretzels, granola bars, etc.) for that very purpose as well as a few sundry items in case one of my students is in need of one of those. However, taking food that someone has placed in a “safe” place and is expecting to eat later is probably not OK under most circumstances. The people who use that refrigerator may indeed also live in a food desert, have low blood sugar, a special diet, or a number of other food related issues that warrant a safe place to keep their food. The more likely scenario is that people simply want to be able to store their lunches and then eat them when they are ready – fair enough.
    Last semester, we had an ongoing problem in our department’s refrigerator. I am fairly confident that whoever was stealing my diet A&W root beer was not doing it because s/he was hungry or living in a food desert.

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