Lily Gross is a Bon Appetit fellow who travels with Bon Appetit to colleges around the country to work with students on sustainability issues. Gross visited Hillsdale this week and taught a cooking class.
Can you tell me about your job with Bon Appetit and how you are promoting sustainability in that position?
I am a fellow, which is a program that Bon Appetit has had for the last ten years. They take students that have just graduated from college and who care about food system issues and sustainability. We work to drive change by visiting seven schools each semester where Bon Appetit is the provider while also supporting students in whatever kind of systems they’re working on related to sustainability or food system issues.
How did you first get involved with Bon Appetit?
During college at Denison University, I worked a lot with the Bon Appetit team as a dining committee member. We worked on various sustainability initiatives and bridging the gap between the students and the dining team. Through this, I got to know the team very well and knew I wanted to work with them, but I had no idea the fellowship existed.
I also did research on Bon Appetit my senior year, I investigated their sourcing policies and compared them to the sourcing policies of restaurants in Granville, Ohio, which is where Denison is located. I wanted to compare how their environmental impact would look, and it was really eye-opening.
I expected to find some major flaw in Bon Appetit’s policies but the restaurants I interviewed had no idea where their food came from and didn’t care, but the conversations I had with Bon Appetit were very different. They knew where everything came from and where it was grown. After a dining committee meeting last spring, our general manager mentioned the fellowship idea to me and I pursued the job and was happy to get it because it felt like the perfect fit.
What do you like best about your campus visits?
What I really like about my campus visits is I feel like there is a lot of variety in how they come together. So at Hillsdale, I’m speaking in four physics classes and one biology class, and on Thursday at 4 p.m. I am also giving a presentation in collaboration with an organization called the Roots Project.
Also, teaching college students how to cook healthy, easy food. The hope here is to help students feel more comfortable around food. Then at other schools, sometimes students will come to me with ideas about implementing projects. And because there are three other fellows throughout the country, I will call the others up to collaborate on helping students with their ideas.
What are some of your favorite activities when you’re not working?
I’m from Michigan, so it’s been really interesting moving to the Twin Cities, and I’ve been working really hard to establish a community and make new friends there. I like being taken out of my comfort zone, so that’s meant that I actually joined a women’s hockey league and play with them a few times a week.
What are you planning to do in the cooking class here at Hillsdale?
“On Monday I taught the softball team how to make frittatas, and then I’m teaching the baseball team how to make frittatas tonight. I had reached out to the coaches of several athletics teams here, and thos