Tackling Grand Challenges: A Community Table- Brainstorming through the Storm

By Mariel Hernandez, International Studies and French

On Wednesday April 10th, Denver got another spring storm, one that did not deter us from having an ‘A Community Table’ conversation about economic opportunity. Maddie’s restaurant provided snacks, my friend Mari offered her warm house, and the Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning (CCESL’s) host packet guided us through important dialogue. Our conversation and thoughts were scattered at first, but joint interest and collaborative thinking created our table’s theme: food security and sustainably sourced foods. As a DU student, I learned more about efforts on campus and we discussed how a great idea can become even better.

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Among many topics, we discussed the Sustainability Committee’s (SUSCOM’s) food pantry in Centennial Towers. We recognized many students, especially upperclassmen who also pay rent, do not have access to healthy and sustainably sourced food. Our conversation led us towards discussion around a great idea while also providing the space to look more critically at our community’s norms and talk about why many do not take advantage of this resource. We pondered if the idea of a food pantry has a stigma attached to it many are not willing to overlook. We also thought of ways to encourage participation in accessing the food pantry’s resources such as offering information about amount of food donated or number of students who profit from this idea to normalize the process. As a table, we wanted to encourage any person regardless of socioeconomic status to take advantage of healthy foods when they are available.

Students can have a great stake in community change. Our scope of knowledge is different than that of faculty, staff, etc. We can provide insight into the norms and standards created and held by our demographic. ‘A Community Table’ encouraged us to discuss community challenges, think outside the box, and share our unique insights with the University. One of my favorite parts about this event is that great ideas come from everywhere and the event made it easy to be able to share our ideas.

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To read more about people’s conversations with ‘A Community Table’ visit:

https://www.du.edu/news/hundreds-share-ideas-community-table

 

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