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.