February 23, 2015
Meatless Monday advocates are making an impact at home, in their cities, and on school campuses across the nation. At a brunch during Climate Week NYC, Mark Ruffalo shared that he practices Meatless Monday with his family as a way to mitigate climate change while opening their doors to cuisine and cultures from around the globe. In January, NYC Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal introduced a resolution to recognize Meatless Monday in NYC for the health of residents and the environment. Meanwhile, young advocates like Cindy Kiefer are having an impact on college campuses nationwide. Cindy attends Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, where she studies psychology. In addition, Cindy is the President and Founder of Food Advocacy Club at Bellarmine. She took a break from her studies and activism to share her Meatless Monday story with all of us.
My friends and fellow executive board members, Rachel Clemons, Fran Herbe, and Michael Helton helped me start the Food Advocacy Club last spring. Our organization seeks to promote critical thinking and awareness of the issues surrounding the food industry through education and service in order to empower students to make more informed, responsible choices about food. In our first year, we have visited Farmers’ Markets, worked at New Roots Fresh Stops , and started the first Meatless Monday program at Bellarmine. This spring, we plan to partner with the organization, New Roots, to put on a summit to educate students in the community about issues of food justice and access to whole foods in Louisville, as well as ways to get involved. We also plan to host a documentary screening of Hungry for Change and connect with University of Louisville to attend a screening of Food Chain.
We heard about the Meatless Monday campaign through Bellarmine’s dance team coach, who is involved with the Humane Society. She brought Meatless Mondays to our attention and offered to help promote this by providing resources from the Humane Society. I proposed this to the Sodexo Dining Services Manager, who had previously established Meatless Monday programs at other schools. Given his experience, he was eager to get the program started at our school, and our first Meatless Monday was in August. We never formally took a Meatless Monday pledge, although we are planning to collect signatures from supporters at each Meatless Monday. We took a different approach to Meatless Monday, primarily emphasizing awareness for its environmental effects.
Our school hosts Meatless Mondays for lunch on the first Monday of each month. One of our biggest challenges has been with PR and helping inform the student body on its importance. Additionally, it has been hard to get people on board and supportive of the program. We have been working to address these issues by working with others in the community to improve our PR, such as the Louisville Farm-to-Table organization. We plan to put advertisements and info on napkin dispensers and leave flyers and brochures on tables. So far, the numbers have been low, and we are working to improve our efforts and the success of the program. We hope to continue Meatless Mondays through 2015 and more effectively inform the student body to join the movement and contribute to a healthier environment.
Good luck to Cindy and the Food Advocacy Club at Bellarmine University with all their plans for 2015 and Meatless Monday! If you would like to bring Meatless Monday to your school, community, restaurant, or workplace, visit http://www.meatlessmonday.com/start-a-campaign/ for free campaign materials.