MSU to host inaugural roundtable discussion on food access

Food access will be the topic of discussion as Michigan State University hosts its first “Our Table” event from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 16 at Cristo Rey Community Center.

“Our Table” is a series of public roundtable discussions in which MSU brings together food experts, agricultural producers, health professionals and community members to listen to each other and foster dialogue. It is part of Food@MSU, a new campus-wide initiative led by the Colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), Arts and Letters, and Communication Arts and Sciences that aims to help consumers make more informed decisions about food, and its impacts on health and the planet.

“We know that there is a lot of misinformation about food because many people rely on things like their smart phones and social media networks for answers, but they are not always getting smart information,” said Ron Hendrick, dean of CANR. “Through these ‘Our Table’ conversations, we are striving to become better listeners and more engaged community partners to help bridge the fairly significant gap between consumers and agriculture.”

Joseph Garcia, executive director of Cristo Rey Community Center, said access to healthy, affordable food is something most take for granted, but it’s a real concern for many.

“Food is a big part of what we do here,” Garcia said. “We need to make connections between better eating and improved health to lessen the likelihood of people getting sick. I hope this event will be the start of MSU and Cristo Rey Community Center working more closely together to make important impacts like these.”

“Our Table” panelists will be from both the local community and MSU. Garcia will be one of the panelists at the Cristo Rey event. Other panelists will include:

They will sit at a wooden table made from fallen MSU campus trees crafted for this initiative. It was created by artist Nathan Shaver who works with MSU Shadows, part of the Department of Forestry. The table seats up to eight and features an inlay of the MSU Spartan helmet logo in the middle.

Sheril Kirshenbaum, a science communicator and author of “Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future,” will moderate the conversations. Kirshenbaum is passionate about food and works at the intersection of science and people.

“There are so many important food topics that we plan to explore, but we chose food access for this first event because it seems extremely appropriate for the Thursday prior to Thanksgiving as we start the holiday season,” Kirshenbaum said.

This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served, and there will be an opportunity for questions at the end. Attendees are also encouraged to donate to their local food pantry or to Cristo Rey.

To learn more about Food@MSU and the “Our Table” events, visit food.msu.edu.

SOURCE: MSU Today