By Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU
Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report on the growing population of students on college campuses who are considered “food insecure” (see The Atlantic and The Chronicle of Higher Education to learn more). In response to their needs, Jesuit institutions are among the many colleges and universities in the United States that are beginning to open food pantries on campus. Our Catholic heritage compels us to serve those who are less fortunate; providing access to healthy food is one way that our schools can live out their mission.
To date, the following AJCU schools have opened food pantries or are planning to open them on campus: Creighton University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Regis University, Saint Louis University and the University of Detroit Mercy. In this issue of Connections, you will learn about ways that two more schools, Gonzaga University and Loyola University Maryland, are serving their students and helping to raise awareness of food insecurity among their local communities.
It’s easy to see why some alumni of Jesuit institutions may be inspired to pursue careers in industries and organizations focused on food: from production to advocacy, food brings us together, but ensures our survival. Our shared Catholic heritage also helps to create the sense of community that so many students experience on our campuses. One way that this spirit of community is made manifest is, of course, through the Mass. And it is through the Mass that we celebrate the Eucharist and receive bread and wine made flesh into the body and blood of Christ.
It only makes sense then that this issue also includes stories of men and women who have graduated from Jesuit institutions and begun careers in industries that include, of course, wine! At Santa Clara University, wine is an important part of its history and Catholic identity: the University was founded by Jesuits in 1851, on land that included a vineyard where Franciscans had previously harvested grapes for altar wine. The sense of camaraderie and community that comes through sharing good drinks together is also seen in Milwaukee, where a number of Marquette University alumni are now making names for themselves as brew masters and brewery owners.
Through this issue of Connections, we hope you will learn more about the ways that our schools are inspiring students to pursue careers in the food and beverage industry, always keeping in mind those who are the least among us. As Pope Francis said in a 2013 address on food and agriculture, “A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.”