Though the UMSFP was christened in 2012, the ideas that led to its formation are much older and have been dancing around the university long before. The people that have formed and shaped the UMSFP from those early conversations were all drawn to the idea of a sustainable food system from different corners of our community because food integrates disparate fields and bridges the gaps between theory and practice, academia and the decisions that make up our daily lives. In April 2013 the UMSFP Leadership Team completed the first version of their business plan.
The UM Sustainable Food Program fosters collaborative leadership that empowers students to create a sustainable food system at the University of Michigan while becoming change agents for a vibrant planet. To further this mission, the UMSFP focuses effort in three specific areas:
- Developing responsible citizens and leaders by facilitating formal and informal education on sustainable food topics
- Strengthening communities through collaborative programming and outreach
- Growing sustainable food that supports the well-being of people and the environment at the University of Michigan and beyond
The UM Campus Farm serves as the central hub of hands-on activity and is primarily operated by student interns and volunteers from the student group, Friends of the Campus Farm with the support of Matthaei-Nichols staff and the UMSFP Advisory Board. The Campus Farm was established as a vehicle through which UMSFP will provide experiential education at the University of Michigan, and to address student interest in gaining practical growing experience.
In recent years student interest has expanded beyond the capacity of on-campus gardens like Cultivating Community, Outdoor Adventures, and the garden run by Student Advocates for Nutrition. In addition to practical experience, students are calling for more locally-sourced, sustainable food available on campus. In rising to the expectations of students, the campus farm is a center for experiential and academic education and helps increase access to fresh food.
Food systems have many parts that range from production to distribution and waste management and at UM there are students working to improve and educate people about this extensive system. In the past, these student organizations have hosted educational dinners, organized film screenings, planted community gardens, and much more. We support these students, the University of Michigan and greater Michigan communities by helping them reach a broader audience and organize their unique visions into collective action around sustainable food.
The UMSFP Advisory Board is a group made up of students, professionals and educators. Their role is to offer advice and support to the leadership team and member groups.