Wake Forest University

Equity - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest



Environmental Justice Event set for 11/11/10

November 8th, 2010


Parking for off-campus visitors is available in Lot G.

To address the complex issues surrounding environmental racism, Wake Forest University will hold “My Neighborhood is Killing Me: Environmental Racism and a Call to Justice,” featuring Bennett College President Julianne Malveaux and Emmy-award winning journalist Simran Sethi.

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Carswell Hall’s Annenberg Forum.

“Many of us are fortunate to live in safe, healthy neighborhoods, but others of us are downwind of factories, downstream of toxic dumping, or in areas without access to fresh and healthy foods,” says Alta Mauro, director of multicultural affairs. “Across the United States, racial minorities and the economically disenfranchised suffer disproportionally from the ill effects of assaults on the environment, and they often lack access to the power to protect their communities.”

Malveaux is a committed activist and civic leader. Her contributions to the public dialogue on issues such as race, culture, gender, and their economic impacts, are shaping public opinion in 21st-century America. An economist, she has held positions in women’s, civil rights, and policy organizations, and serves on the boards of the Economic Policy Institute, The Recreation Wish List Committee of Washington, D.C., and the Liberian Education Trust. Malveaux will specifically address racial issues and challenges to creating safe, healthy communities.

Sethi, described as an “environmental messenger” by Vanity Fair magazine, is the founding host/writer of Sundance Channel’s environmental programming “The Green” and the creator of the Sundance online series “The Good Fight,” highlighting environmental justice efforts and grassroots activism. She has contributed numerous segments to “Nightly News with Brian Williams,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Today Show,” CNBC, the History Channel and other television programs. She is an associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

“Environmental degradation knows no boundaries. An unhealthy environment affects us all,” says Director of Sustainability Dedee DeLongpré Johnston. “We hope this event will raise awareness and encourage people from all communities to take action and address these complex issues.”

Wake Forest Provost Jill Tiefenthaler will moderate the discussion. The event is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of Sustainability.

For more information, contact Alta Mauro at mauroat@wfu.edu, 336.758.5227 or Dedee DeLongpré Johnston at johnstdm@wfu.edu, 336.758.3482

Custodial Services recognized for new OS1 cleaning program success

September 28th, 2010

Representatives from Wake Forest Facilities and Campus Services accepted various awards for the university's new OS1 cleaning program.

The university was recently recognized for success in our new custodial management program, Operating System I (OS1) at the national OS1 user symposium in Portland, Oregon. In addition to receiving an award for the Best New Cleaning Program, as well as eight Outstanding Cleaning Worker medals for university custodians, Calloway (Kirby/Manchester Halls) also received Green Certification.

OS1 is a comprehensive high performance cleaning system that focuses on retraining of employees — from custodial workers to managers — to empower team members and promote a safe working environment that reduces chemical use and packaging waste.

Under the new program, custodial duties are now performed at night in academic buildings and during the day in residential buildings, by highly trained teams. These teams employ specialized cleaning kits designed by Portion Pac, with premeasured amounts of products to prevent waste and limit chemical use. The spray bottles in these kits are reused until they no longer function and are then recycled.

The OS1 system uses only two cleaning compounds – a disinfectant for restrooms and an all purpose cleaner for everything else – both of which are Green Seal certified. This certification means that the chemicals are much safer for the environment and contain fewer harmful substances that adversely affect not only the health of the environment, but that of custodians and customers alike. “OS1 is for the cleaning worker as much as it is for the occupant of the spaces that they clean,” Frank Thomas, director of custodial services, explained.

Teams of Wake Forest custodial employees are led by exemplary employees, eight of whom were recognized for their efforts to go above and beyond the call of duty. “I think it provides the other workers with something to aspire to,” Thomas said of the Outstanding Cleaning Worker medals. Because only one of the eight recipients could travel to Portland to receive the award in person, the other seven were presented at an “All Hands” meeting in front of their fellow employees.

The custodial division at Wake Forest rolled out the program last September in Calloway and it spread to Greene, Tribble, and Carswell Halls as well as the Worrell Professional Center the following semester. This fall, the Benson Center will be included in the expanding program. The only residence hall currently equipped for the program is South Hall, which will serve as a pilot for future deployment in all of the residence halls as renovations are completed. Thomas hopes that the program will be fully implemented in all the academic and residential buildings on campus within the next two years.

“This program really shows that Wake Forest doesn’t just talk about changing and doing things for humanity,” Thomas said. “Cleaning workers are not the most respected workers, but we are doing something to appreciate their hard work and to ensure that they are safe when they come to work. That’s pro humanitate in action.”

By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern

Fresh Market partnership saves tons of food from dumpsters

September 3rd, 2010

Campus Kitchen has long been known for efforts in food justice on campuses across America. The university’s branch expanded these efforts in February through a unique partnership with high-end artisanal grocery store, The Fresh Market.

Campus Kitchen Coordinator Shelley Graves heaves bags of food into the Student Life van on a daily Fresh Market delivery.Through Campus Kitchen, between 400 to 650 pounds of food each week are saved from the Winston-Salem Fresh Market dumpsters and distributed by three local agencies to families in need.  Though The Fresh Market has outlets across the Eastern US, only the Winston-Salem store has entered into a partnership of this sort largely because of the initiative of one of its part-time employees, Tracy Stegman.

Stegman, who works as a university Licensure Officer in the department of education, made the immediate connection between the role Campus Kitchen plays in food redistribution and the wasteful practices of her one-time employer. After several months of negations with the company last year, an agreement was reached and the first ever food drop occurred in February 2010.

Campus Kitchen serves as the middleman in this new program. Fresh Market employees gather the food from the shelves and ready it for departure. Campus Kitchen volunteers sort through the produce and deliver it to one of three agencies – El Buen Pastor, The Potter’s House, or The Shalom Project – and the agencies in turn distribute the food according to the most efficient means for their particular community.

Any produce that cannot be given in good faith to the organizations is used for compost in the Campus Garden and a community garden at El Buen Pastor.

The high-end groceries collected and sorted by Campus Kitchen volunteers play a key role in promoting food equality for those in need in Winston-Salem, according to Campus Kitchen Coordinator Shelley Graves said.

“Typically folks that are food insecure are relying on food banks and government program to get their food. This means a good majority of the food available to them is not perishable,” she said.

“For a lot of children in these families, this creates a definition of food for the rest of their lives. [The Fresh Market] food really expands [the definition of] food for these folks and removes some of the socioeconomic boundaries in the food system,” Graves said.

Caitlin Brooks, Outreach and Communications Intern

Faces of Sustainability: Shelley Graves

August 2nd, 2010

Campus Kitchen coordinator, Shelley Graves, is nearly incapable of wasting food, which makes her a good fit to lead the organization on campus responsible for redistributing dining and catering waste and channeling local food resources into the hands of those most in need. “I really like to eat, and I really like food. There are a lot of hotbeds for sustainable work, but food is the most essential resource. We all need to eat,” she said of her passion for food justice.

Graves, who received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Wake Forest, has a long history of involvement with various non-profit groups including Washington D.C. based organization, Brain Food, a program that teaches low-income high school students much needed cooking skills. Yet she had never worked with Campus Kitchen before becoming coordinator in the summer of 2009. The now national organization began in 1999 as a student driven service program at the university called Homerun.

Campus Kitchen has grown a lot as an organization since its grassroots conception at Wake Forest. Today students at 25 schools (including one high school) across the country volunteer to make sure that unserved excess food doesn’t end up in the landfill but in the stomachs of those in need. As part of her full-time position, Graves clocks a lot of hours in the field each week, supervising students during the academic year and sorting and delivering food herself during the summers.

The university’s branch of Campus Kitchen currently serves 8 partner groups from the city of Winston-Salem. Five receive catering and dining hall extras that are distributed directly through the facility. The other three receive produce, dairy, and breads from The Fresh Market to ensure that each family that visits the partner organization receives some healthy fresh foods for the week. Produce from the campus garden is also funneled into the Campus Kitchen distribution system.

While Graves finds the physical tasks of delivering the food to grateful families highly rewarding, she says the best part of her job is getting to work with students to help them blossom into new leaders. “I really think that is the only way to make any sort of large scale change toward sustainability. We help these kids become leaders and they become foot soldiers who educate their peers and help fight this fight,” she said.

Outside of work, Graves strives to take small steps toward sustainability herself. Her love of cooking encouraged her to start a garden which, she says “was a total failure. I guess that’s my dirty little secret. I really want to be a green thumb, but I’m a terrible gardener,” she said.

Not to be deterred, she buys almost all of her food locally during the growing season and hopes to start canning her own vegetables next year. She can also often be found scouring thrift stores and vintage shops for unique used clothing. “People don’t usually think to buy used clothing to live sustainably, but it makes a difference,” Graves said.

Caitlin Brooks, Outreach and Communications Intern