Bon Appetit seeks to encourage sus­tain­ability through its grant com­pe­tition. | Wiki­media

Bon Appetit is hosting a $1000 sus­tain­ability grant com­pe­tition to cel­e­brate the 10-year anniversary of the Fel­lowship Program.

To compete, appli­cants must come up with a “com­pelling” sus­tain­ability project, such as campus gardens, food lit­eracy and edu­cation, and waste reduc­tions aid William Persson, Bon Appetit Mar­keting Manager and co-host of the new podcast Green Is The New Black. They must submit a pro­posal of their project by Oct. 1 to be con­sidered. Twenty semi-finalists will be selected and notified on Oct. 20. 

“You don’t have a lot of time to impress a lot of people,” said Persson. “But I’m sure someone from Hillsdale will get it.”

There are 10 prizes of $1000 each and two sec­tions of the com­pe­tition, People’s Choice and general. The first is based on how many likes the project receives on Instagram and the second is chosen by Bon Appetit and former and current members of the fel­lowship program.  The People’s Choice winner will be decided between Oct. 11 and Oct. 25. On Oct. 25, Bon Appetit will announce the People’s Choice winner and the nine other grant winners. The grants will be dis­tributed in November.

The grant oppor­tunity arose as a cel­e­bration of the 10th anniversary of the Fel­lowship Program, a network of Bon Appetit fellows that focuses on sus­tain­ability in Bon Appetit estab­lish­ments.

“Fel­low­ships are sort of geared at training and edu­cating that indi­vidual about whatever that company is,” Persson said. “In our case, they’re going to be the ones edu­cating others.”

The program was started in 2009 in order to “champion sus­tain­ability on college cam­puses,” Persson said. Bon Appetit would hire three college grad­uates who would be based in dif­ferent regions and serve as resources to cam­puses in the region, such as con­necting with faculty about food edu­cation, having guest lec­tures and cooking classes, and hosting field trips. Fellows also undertake projects they’re inter­ested in as they reach out to dif­ferent cam­puses.

“Dif­ferent ones have done food waste, cre­ating a network of student gar­deners and farmers,” Persson said. “They just released a campus farmers network, which is all the farmers they have, brought together on a single platform and sort of giving resources to anyone, like any school that wants to start a farm. It’s all the resources you need.”

Persson said the fellows have the expertise and serve as “brand ambas­sadors.”

“They know the brand inside and out and also are good at imple­menting and planning events,” Persson said. “I think it’s very exciting.”

Senior Jessica Frenkel is entering the com­pe­tition with a pro­posal for on-campus farming and com­posting called the Roots Project, an idea she came up with over the summer. 

“We’re going to be reducing our food waste in campus dining, which will sig­nif­i­cantly reduce overall waste as a campus,” Frenkel said. “A lot of the hope in pur­suing the grant oppor­tunity is that would largely fund setting up the com­posting bins, which would allow us to get started as soon as pos­sible.”

They’re also planning on taking stu­dents to dif­ferent farms from which  Bon Appetit sources.

“The hope is to bring the stories and the people behind the food that we eat to the stu­dents in a dif­ferent way,” Frenkel said. “We’re so flooded with work and studies and oblig­a­tions that we’re not even thinking about how much went into that food that’s nour­ishing us, which is a really beau­tiful thing when you think about it.”

The long-term goal, she said, is to start a campus farm and have stu­dents grow much of the food that is served in the dining hall as well as provide a research oppor­tunity for botany in a larger capacity.

“I’m def­i­nitely eager to connect with other people who are pas­sionate about these things,” Frenkel said. “I’m really excited to bring that to the stu­dents and invite more people to par­tic­ipate in the con­ver­sation.”

Bon Appetit manager David Apthorpe said sus­tain­ability is one of the founding prin­ciples of Bon Appetit, and the grant is aimed toward getting stu­dents involved.

“The program is to get young people who are of a mindset to help people define sus­tain­ability and using those voices and those thoughts to build the program,” Apthorpe said. “We’d be thrilled to have some involvement and part­nership with the student groups at Hillsdale like we’ve seen on other cam­puses.”

This is the first time the grant has been pre­sented and it’s  unlikely to happen reg­u­larly.

“We’re hoping that the student groups are going to be doing some­thing that will be edu­ca­tional and pushing for some­thing that Bon Appetit believes in as a company,” Persson said.