Berkshire Food Project

Co-taught by Lauren Guilmette ’08 and Laura Huang ‘11

(Please contact 08leg or lh1 for details)

This experiential course will focus on food insecurity in our local community surrounding Williams, as well as local grassroots activism to approach these issues. The shift in the northern Berkshires away from an industrial economy has rendered hundreds of local residents unemployed, underemployed, or at best, leashed to minimum-wage jobs with neither benefits nor security. In our local community, the hunger rate is six times greater than the local average, and one out of every three children lives in a family struggling to put a meal on the table.

In this Free University course, our “class” time will be spent mostly at the Berkshire Food Project in North Adams (transportation will be provided). The BFP is a community-run free lunch program (started by Williams students!) which continues to serve food to low income local residents. Volunteers serve lunch, eat and talk with the clients, and clean up afterwards. But here the word "serve" is used advisedly, as the BFP is emphatic in its determination not to be a soup kitchen. We have no "chow line" where globs of unidentifiable stuff are plunked onto paper plates; rather, the set-up is restaurant-style, with students and others volunteers as servers. This program simultaneously works to create a sense of community in North Adams because, while most clients are at or below the poverty line, many others show up too because the food is delicious. The BFP recently moved to serving lunch everyday, and we plan to go two-three days a week from 11:15 to 12:45, depending on the schedules of those who sign up!

In addition to time spent at the BFP, talking with the local activists who keep it in operation, we will investigate other local groups and hopefully bring in some evening speakers to discuss food issues in our community. If you are interested in grassroots activism and/or hunger issues, please join us this January!