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The Food Security and Sustainability Society, one year on

Julian Mashingaidze, undergraduate student and President of the University’s student society on food security, reflects on the many achievements of its inaugural year.

One year ago this month, the Food Security and Sustainability Society was formally formed, with the aim of involving students in issues of sustainability and food security in the Edinburgh community.

One of the first projects that we took part in was the Cyrenians initiative. The Cyrenians charity manages a food bank in Leith, and works closely with Dr Kirsteen Shields from the Global Academy. She reached out to the society in mid-March, when the pandemic lockdown started.

Being involved in delivering food parcels to vulnerable people was certainly a great way to give back, as well as a reason to get out of my room! The society and I took a leading role and we got other students involved as well, some of who were struggling mentally owing to the pandemic and lockdown.

Many students have said that this is the best thing we could have done for them, as it allowed them to escape the situation for at least 3 hours a day. Getting outside and helping out is doing us a huge amount of good - the team at the depot are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Events programme

The society wanted to start the current academic year with a bang, so we decided to do that by launching an event where we hosted a range of organisations involved with promoting food security within Edinburgh.

This had around 65 people in attendance and set the tempo for the rest of the year, as we would continually hunt for informative, exciting speakers. We were also able to make useful contacts such as Nourish Scotland and Edible Edinburgh, who do amazing work in promoting good food policies in Edinburgh.

We then had a talk on ‘Will Veganism Save us?’, which had our highest attendance at around 75 people. Subsequent talks were ‘Extinction 2050’, ‘Children and Food insecurity during the pandemic’, and ‘Field and Young Farmer’, all of which had strong attendance figures.

Personally, I had so much fun organising and listening to the speakers at these events. It was not always easy finding the right person for a certain talk, but I must thank the Global Academy for their suggestions throughout the year. Most of our talks are available on our YouTube channel.

Campus garden

When the society started, we were given a budget to run an agricultural plot at Easter Bush, as part of the University’s student experience grants.

Students tend the campus plot.
Students tend the campus plot.

Vivianne Goetz, an undergraduate student and society Co-President, offered to lead that project, and has worked tirelessly to set it up. We managed to sow a few crops in the first semester, however owing to the pandemic, work in the second semester has been limited.

Next year we are hoping for more time and investment into the plot and we hope to have fresh organic produce. If you are interested in getting involved, please do send us an email.

The year has certainly been eventful for the society. We are currently running a few projects regarding promoting healthy eating and food security on campus.

Please do keep updated for more information on any of those. In the next academic year, we will continue to encourage more sustainable food choices as well as campaigning against food insecurity.

Related links

Food Security and Sustainability Society

Society YouTube channel

Student Experience Grants