On September 4, JCCC is holding their annual Harvest Dinner. I talked to Jay Antle, history professor and executive director of the center of sustainability about this year’s dinner and what is to be expected.
(Antle) “The harvest dinner actually has an early origin with executive chef Jim Johnson over in dining services that wanted to have a local food dinner that would bring attention to local farmers and over time that event has evolved into a fundraising event for our sustainable agriculture program.”
(Antle) “roughly 20 dollars per ticket goes to student scholarships, the rest is the cost of the dinner and typically this would be a very fancy sit down meal over in the area of the center but because we are in a very different time right now we have to adapt so in the spirit of COVID-19 we’re doing take out!”
While switching to take out for dinner the sustainability program made sure they were still using the appropriate materials, this could hopefully bring other school or restaurants to follow in being a more sustainable.
(Antle) “Yeah well obviously we will be doing take out so we made sure we found take out containers that are either recyclable or compostable because of what we do we certainly don’t want people going home with Styrofoam.”
(Antle) “So while some people think about recycling and renewable energy as being what sustainability is it’s also about food production it’s about understanding how systems do and don’t work together to produce societally beneficial things.”
Not only is the packaging of the dinner beneficial, the ingredients either come fresh from the 2-and-a-half-acre Petal farm on campus or from local farmers. This is especially important as local business has been particularly hit during the pandemic.
(Antle) “I know we harvested a lot of garlic earlier as well as some potatoes, greens whatever they have will be offered up to the chefs to use and at the end of the day we’ll end up seeing what gets used. And what’s not from the farm I know the chefs are trying to order from local vendors so the source material the food will be as local as we can make it what is not from our farm is from local ranchers and other farmers.”
(Hannah Debok) ““Eating at local restaurants that buy food and produce locally also helps in that way too so if you’re buying from a local restaurant, you’re not only helping that restaurant your also helping farmers and workers. It keeps the money in the local community.”
(Debok) “I think if where you’re eating locally, gets its produce from farmers markets and local farms, I think that that’s a great way to benefit the environment and sustainability.”
Jay also gave me some insight into what makes this event so special, besides the delicious food, there are other aspects that attract people to come back year after year.
(Antle) “I think people like the cause they like to support a program that’s training farmers who will produce their food in the future and do so in ways that are more ecologically friendly and sustainable”
(Antle) “I’ve had a couple folks say to me that because it’s hard, you can’t get groups together people are struggling to figure out how to donate to causes they care about and so I think us offering this take out dinner has allowed folks to give to a cause they care about but do so in a way which is safe.”
This year’s dinner will certainly be different than previous years, although one tradition that hasn’t changed is the success and support from the community.
(Antle) “I would just say I’m very pleased with the way the community has supported this dinner and this sustainability program and how they continue to do so it’s very gratifying and shows that we are offering a program the community wants us to offer, and that’s great.”
Reporting from The Campus Ledger, this has been Paige Winters.