Saturday, February 21, 2009

We Will Eat!

1st Communiqué of the Baldwin-Wallace Food Justice Council

Baldwin-Wallace is a well-heeled liberal arts college in Berea, Ohio. Students in dorms there are being driven to pilfer food in the cafeteria because their $12.00 per day food allowances are totally inadequate for the prices. I'm told by a firsthand witness that students of color were the first to be punished for pilfering. To solve this problem, B-W students began to organize a food justice group. One of the leaders of the group has been involved with the housing foreclosure group here in Cleveland that I am part of. -- Jay Rothermel

1st Communiqué of the Baldwin-Wallace Food Justice Council

We, the founders of the B-W Food Justice Council wish to issue this communiqué to state our goals and purpose in founding this group.

Two of our members witnessed someone in the Cafeteria be caught and punished for stealing food. One of us asked an anonymous cafeteria worker about this, and we discovered that this is a crisis.

Food Prices have long been an outrage among our circle of friends and others. However, with the economy in a state of collapse, and students stealing food, we decided something had to be done.

We understand that vendor prices may affect the food prices negatively. However, we also know that B-W, unlike any restaurant, is given subsidies for all its work-study employees. We also know that if one divides the total of money we are expected to spend on food in the union, without adding additional funds to our Jacket Cards, the total comes to less than $12 a day, not including laundry, school supplies, and other expenses.

Anyone who can eat three solid meals in the Cafeteria at B-W every day and not spend any more than $12 is not within the norm.

The myth that reducing food prices will cause cafeteria workers to be fired is disgusting. Perhaps the college administrators can sacrifice some of their huge salaries. Perhaps the college could lobby the government for more financial aid. Perhaps the college could raise the amount given to Jacket Cards at the beginning of the semester, in order to allow students to use financial aid for such costs, rather than having to pay out of their own pockets, or the pockets of their parents, many of whom are laid off, unemployed, and possibly in the process of home foreclosure.

We are not trying to cause drama, or chaos. We are, exercising our rights as given to us not only by the U.S. constitution, but also the B-W Student Handbook, which allows us to petition the college administration and the government with grievances.

The college's response is already shameful. Two agents have already been sent to disrupt our internet activity. One was directly employed by the Cafeteria, and the other was a high ranking member of the Student Government and friend of the administration. Both blamed the students for the problem, one accusing us of eating too many donuts and not buying our books without our Jacket Cards, and the other lecturing us and talking down to us, and directly attacking two of the groups founders.

We, as college students and human beings, must eat. If being able to eat means a struggle, we are ready for it. This is not an attack on the college, the food service staff, or other entities. This is a struggle for food.

When food theft is going on, as it clearly is, there is a problem. The problem is not that we are "brats" and "kids" -- the problem is a college policy which we feel must be changed.

We wish to call our first meeting for Tuesday, Feb. 24th at 12:00. The meeting will be held at Book and Bean Coffee Shop, off campus. This meeting is not for Student Government, College Administrators, or others who oppose us. This meeting is for students who seek to change a college policy and discuss how to do so.

We will eat. We will win.

Join us at Book and Bean to discuss how to stop the insanity of unacceptable food conditions.

From: Monthly Review Zine

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