UM, Oxford to Celebrate Food Day

Oct. 16 celebration to feature on-campus farmers market, festival and panel discussion

2013 Food Day Farmers Market and Festival

2013 Food Day Farmers Market and Festival

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi and Oxford community will observe Food Day – a nationwide movement toward healthy, affordable and sustainable food – Thursday (Oct. 16) with a festival and panel discussion.

The Food Day Farmers Market and Festival is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the Student Union. Following the festival, student leaders will gather to speak about “The State of Food at UM,” a panel discussion focused on student-led initiatives, at 5:30 p.m. in the Overby Center Auditorium. Both events are free and open to the public.

“Food Day is about opening a dialogue and raising awareness about food-related issues,” said Lindsey Abernathy, project coordinator in the Office of Sustainability. “But, it’s also about celebrating what we are doing right by highlighting local, real food and the people behind that food and those initiatives.”

The Food Day Festival and Farmers Market will focus on local food and will feature a mobile farm bus, farmers selling local produce, free food samples and educational displays by campus and community groups including the UM Food Bank, Real Food Rebels, Oxford Community Garden, Good Food for Oxford Schools and more.

At 11 a.m., Blue Cross Blue Shield Chef Labron Alexander will conduct a healthy cooking demonstration as part of the university wellness program, RebelWell. Alexander will demo a ginger-kale smoothie, oven-baked chicken and sweet potato hummus. Samples will be available.

“The State of Food at UM” panel will be moderated by Catarina Passidomo, assistant professor of Southern studies and anthropology, and will feature short talks from Chancellor Dan Jones; Jillian Cowart of Real Food Rebels; Christine Dickason of the UM Food Bank; Katelynn Dillard of the Office of Sustainability, Oxford City Market and Good Food for Oxford Schools; Kendall McDonald of the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network; and Dottie Reid of Oxford High School.

“I think it’s important to have a better understanding of where the food that we eat comes from and the people involved in that production,” Passidomo said. “Students in particular are at a good point in their lives to become engaged and to feel empowered to make a changes and I think that this is one area where they can set really specific goals. I hope the panel is something that students come to and feel inspired by and feel like they have new information about ways to get involved to make difference. “

The Food Day celebration at UM kicked off Oct. 8 with a screening of the documentary “Fed Up,” which chronicles the rise of the processed food industry in the United States and the health implications related to processed, sugary foods.

For more information about Food Day events, email or contact Lindsey Abernathy at 662-915-3442.

UM, Oxford to Celebrate Food Day Oct. 16

Festival to feature market, cooking demonstration, mobile farm bus and more

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss CommunicationsThe University of Mississippi Student Union Plaza will transform into an on-campus farmers’ market and festival on Thursday, Oct. 16 as part of the fourth annual Food Day celebration, a nationwide celebration and movement toward healthy, affordable and sustainable food.

The Food Day Farmers’ Market and Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The event features a mobile farm bus, farmers selling local produce and educational displays by campus and community groups including the UM Food Bank, Real Food Rebels, the Oxford Community Garden, Good Food For Oxford Schools and others.

During the festival, Blue Cross, Blue Shield chef Labron Alexander will perform a healthy cooking demonstration as part of the university’s new wellness program, RebelWell.

Campus Food Day events also include a screening of “Fed Up” on Oct. 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the Overby Center Auditorium.  Following the festival on Oct. 16, students will discuss “The State of the Food at UM,” during a panel discussion in the Overby Center Auditorium from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

For more information about Food Day events, e-mail or contact Lindsey Abernathy at 662-915-3442.


Panel discussion to focus on “The State of Food at UM”

Photo by Kevin Bain.  OverbyAs part of the Food Day celebration, the University of Mississippi is hosting a student discussion panel on Thursday, Oct. 16 from 5:30–6:30 p.m. in the Overby Center Audtiorium. “The State of Food at UM” discussion will be led by Catarina Townes, Assistant Professor of Southern Studies and Anthropology, and will feature short talks from Chancellor Dan Jones, several UM students and an Oxford High School student.

The panel will offer insight to university and community members about the current state of local food. The student speakers are individuals heavily involved in food issues and bringing positive change to the local community.

This year’s panel will include Christine Dickason of UM Food Bank, Katelynn Dillard of the Office of Sustainability, Jillian Cowart of Real Food Rebels, Kendall McDonald of Mississippi Sustainable Agricultural Network, and Dottie Reed of Good Food for Oxford Schools. Through this panel, participating groups aim to educate attendees about local food and strengthen a healthy food system within the Oxford community.



UM to Screen ‘Fed Up’ on Thursday, October 8

Fed Up DVD PosterThe Office of Sustainability is partnering with Students for a Green Campus, the Environmental Studies minor, the Student Dietetics Association, and Real Food Rebels to screen Fed Up, a documentary about the obesity epidemic in America. The free screening will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. in the Overby Center Auditorium.

Obesity is a serious health risk that threatens the lives of millions of Americans. According to the documentary, “over 95 percent of all Americans will be overweight or obese in two decades. By 2050, one out of every three Americans will have diabetes.” These are some of the major health concerns about processed food. Robert Lustig, professor of Pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco, explains “there are 600,000 food items in America. Eighty percent of them have added sugar.”

The Office of Sustainability is dedicating the month of October to celebrate real food and bring attention to local, regional, and national food issues. The Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University explains how food is related to environmental sustainability:

“As individual consumers, and as employees in corporations, we make decisions every day about the food we buy, which gives us great power to reshape the way we produce, process, transport, and use food.”

Receive Funding for a Sustainability Project on Campus

Find out how you can support environmental sustainability at Ole Miss

Sydney Crimmins sells a water bottle to Forrest Gamble during Green Week.

Students sell water bottles as part of the UM Green Fund’s first project.

From submitting a project proposal to getting involved in existing projects as part of a class, there are multiple ways to support the Green Fund.

What is the UM Green Fund?

The University of Mississippi Green Fund is a pool of university funds combined with donations from the campus community. These funds are allocated to projects proposed by students, faculty, and staff, which are reviewed and selected each semester by the UM Green Fund Committee. The mission of the UM Green Fund is to raise awareness about the importance of environmental sustainability and to lower the environmental impact of the University of Mississippi. After a successful first year, the Green Fund is entering year two of funding sustainability projects on campus. The committee has approved three projects for the fall of 2014 and has appointed four new committee members for the 2014-2015 academic year.

How to Donate

Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to donate to the UM Green Fund. The Green Fund operates on an annual budget of $15,000 received from the university, and the committee seeks additional donations so that it may award more funding to projects. UM provides a 50 percent match for every dollar donated to the Green Fund by students. To donate with a credit or debit card, visit and click on the “Donate to UM Green Fund” tab located on the left side of the home screen. From there, you will be directed to enter your payment information and choose your donation amount.

Submitting Project Proposals

Any student, faculty or staff member can submit a project proposal to the UM Green Fund Committee. In the past, project proposals have been submitted by individuals, as well as by classes and departments. Once a project receives funding, student committee members will act as liaisons to help the project proposers with the project’s implementation. If you or your department is interested in submitting a project proposal, please email to receive further information or visit Project proposals for fall 2014 are due October 17.

Become a Member of the UM Green Fund Committee

The UM Green Fund Committee is comprised of six student committee members, two faculty committee members and two staff committee members. Students serve two-year commitments on the committee. If you are a student, faculty, or staff member and are interested in serving on the UM Green Fund Committee, visit or email to stay up to date on available committee positions.

Other Ways to Get Involved

Besides proposing projects with their classes, faculty members are encouraged to involve their classes with current projects including the Library E-Film projectcomposting project, or Flip-the-Switch project. Conducting an environmental impact analysis, a cost-benefit analysis or creating a communications campaign are just a few examples of ways instructors can engage their students through the UM Green Fund.

Green Fund Implements New Projects for Fall 2014

Projects include compost program expansion, energy-reduction initiatives

Compost-PosterThis semester, the UM Green Fund has provided funding to three campus projects including the expansion of the pilot composting program, which is projected to divert 36,000 pounds of pre-consumer food waste from the landfill during fall semester, and its first-ever initiatives targeting energy reduction.

Composting Project Expansion

The pilot composting program began in the fall 2013 and has expanded for the fall 2014. The UM composting team now picks up pre-consumer food waste from Rebel Market, in addition to the Marketplace at the Residential Colleges. This food waste is then brought to the Medicinal Plant Garden to be composted.

The project is headed by Victoria Burgos, a junior Parks and Recreation Management major from Olive Branch, Mississippi, who originally proposed the project in the spring 2013. Burgos oversees the composting project with the help of two Green Student interns in the Office of Sustainability. In its first year, her project composted nearly 6,000 pounds of pre-consumer food waste from the RC Marketplace, creating 19 cubic yards of compost. That compost is now being used by the RC Garden Club to plant their new on-campus garden. The composting team is projected to compost up to 36,000 pounds of food waste this year.

To evaluate the project, Green Fund Committee faculty member Dr. Cristiane Surbeck’s civil engineering class (CE 471) completed an Environmental Impact Analysis. The class concluded that over one year the project reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the RC Marketplace’s food waste by 1.25 equivalent kg of CO2 per pound of food waste composted. The net total of GHG emissions reduced was more than eight tons. The collaboration between the UM Green Fund and Dr. Surbeck’s class was a great opportunity to raise student awareness of environmental sustainability.

Energy Reduction Projects

The Green Fund has implemented its first-ever projects targeting energy reduction this fall. The projects, called the library window film project and the Flip-the-Switch project, will help to improve campus building efficiency, as well as engage students in energy conservation. The library window film project was proposed by J.D. Williams Library staff, and the Flip-the-Switch project was proposed by rising sophomore and UMGF Committee Member Joe Bell.

Library Window Film Project

Over the summer,  low-e film was installed on the south-facing windows on the second and third floors of the J.D. Williams Library. The film will block up to 57 percent of solar energy, reducing the need for air conditioning to cool the room, which results in annual electricity cost savings between 5 and 15 percent.

The film also helps better protect the library’s archives and special collections in the Faulkner Room from UV light. UV rays can damage sensitive materials including historical books and letters like those found in the Faulkner Room. Pre-energy data and UV light measurements have been recorded and will be compared to data recorded after film installation to determine electricity and cost savings. Since the installation of the low-e film, the staff members on the second floor are now able to keep their blinds open and take advantage of the office view while still remaining comfortable.

Flip-the-Switch Project

The Residential Colleges house the Flip-the-Switch project, which is geared toward lowering energy use in the residence halls. The Flip-the-Switch project is an awareness campaign targeting behavior changes. For this project, stickers have been placed above the light switches in residence hall rooms at the RCs to remind students to turn out their lights when they leave.

The stickers are unique to each floor in RC South, so no two floors have the same sticker. The fourth floor of RC South has no sticker, and serves as the control floor. The energy data collected will reflect the effectiveness of different messages and styles of the stickers. The Luckyday Residential College has the same sticker on all floors. The Flip-the-Switch project could help cut back on energy costs as well as serve as a model for future behavior change projects.

Past Green Fund Projects

Hydration Stations

During the 2013-2014 academic year, the UM Green Fund funded the installation of three hydration stations on campus. These stations provide access to cool, filtered water and encourage the reuse of  water bottles. To date, more than 84,967 water bottles have been refilled at the stations. They are located in Brevard, Faser and Holman. This project was proposed by Tristen Jackson, a graduate of the pharmacy school.

H2otty Toddy Water Bottles

The first project funded by the UM Green Fund was the H2otty Toddy water bottle project proposed by writing professor Milly West and her LIBA 102 writing class. The class wrote a proposal and received funding to sell reusable H2otty Toddy Water Bottles at the 2013 Sustainability Fair as a part of Green Week. The water bottles were sold to raise awareness of the waste created by non-reusable water bottles and to encourage the use of reusable water bottles. Water bottle sales totaled more than $2,000. The proceeds were put back into the Green Fund.

To learn more about the Green Fund, visit

Faculty and Staff engage students through UM Green Fund

green fund logo useThe UM Green Fund collaborates with faculty and staff to engage  students and utilize the campus as a living laboratory. This collaboration allows students to apply academic knowledge, stimulate interests, and sharpen critical thinking skills. In the past, the UM Green Fund has worked with:

Civil Engineering 471 – Instructor: Dr. Cristiane Surbeck

Dr. Surbeck’s CE 471 class conducted an environmental impact analysis for the first year of the pilot composting program. The composting program is a Green Fund project run by student interns and overseen by the Office of Sustainability.

Integrated Marketing Communications 555 – Instructor: Chris Sparks

Sparks collaborated with the Office of Sustainability to create a capstone project for her IMC 555 class. Students competed in teams to create an integrated communication campaign utilizing multiple forms of media and creative communications to reduce campus energy consumption by 10 percent.

LIBA 102, First Year Seminar – Instructor: Milly West

West’s LIBA 102 class drafted a Green Fund proposal to purchase “H20tty Toddy” water bottles and encourage the use of reusable bottles on campus. The students successfully presented their proposal at a public forum and their project received funding.

To learn more about engaging classes through UM Green Fund projects e-mail

Office of Sustainability Goes Big with Guerrilla Marketing

The University of Mississippi Office of Sustainability resorted to a little bit of guerrilla marketing to help draw attention to Green Week this year.  Students walking to class Monday morning were surprised to find a giant, 8′ cube of trash sitting next to the Lyceum.

UM Announces Commitment to ‘Climate Neutrality’

Chancellor signs American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, renewing campus focus on environmental issues


Chancellor Dan Jones signs the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones announced a major campuswide commitment Tuesday (April 22) to the goal of making Ole Miss “climate neutral,” saying the university community is focused on making sure its operations will benefit the environment as much as they take away from it.

At the ceremony, Jones signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, to which some 600 of his counterparts across the country also gave their signatures. Jones said UM, which is already perennially ranked as one of the most beautiful campuses in America, will continue to focus on being “good stewards of our Earth.”

“A lot of good things happen on this campus and our university every day,” Jones said. “Students’ lives are changed. We make an impact on our state, but as we are doing that in a modern society; consequently, we have negative effects on the environment, on the Earth. This is simply a commitment to joining with lots of other universities in saying we want to be the best stewards we can be.”

The announcement of UM’s renewed commitment to the environment came on Earth Day. Green Week also kicked off on campus Tuesday, bringing a weeklong focus on environmental issues and sustainability. Green Week culminates with an Arbor Day tree planting celebration among the many oaks in the Grove at 11:30 a.m. Friday (April 25).

The chancellor also expressed his appreciation of the local landscape’s natural beauty and said he was grateful for the wisdom of state leaders in choosing the then-rural site for the campus, which opened in 1848. The picturesque surroundings inspire UM employees and students to strive for the goal of climate neutrality, he said.

“I say thank you to those founders of this community who had the vision to think that this beautiful place in the woods would be a good place for this university,” Jones said. “I’m grateful not to be in an urban environment here. I’m grateful to be surrounded by beautiful trees, by rolling hills that we can see and appreciate. I’m grateful to be in a place where it’s inspiring to be better stewards of the environment and also a little bit easier.”

In April 2008, then-Chancellor Robert Khayat signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and two months later, the university established its Office of Sustainability.

“Sustainability is about efficiency in all things; it’s a smart way to live,” said Ian Banner, university architect and director of sustainability. “Do as much as you can with as little as necessary. Try not to waste, pollute or destroy. Respect what is around you and preserve it for coming generations.”

The Office of Sustainability is working on “green” building construction principles across campus to promote energy and water efficiency and environmentally conscious uses of building materials. Last fall, it also launched a compost pilot program, supported by the UM Green Fund, which has diverted one ton of food waste from the local landfill and produced beneficial soil enhancements for the campus garden at Residential College South. The office also runs an intern program that provides valuable experience for students.

The office also supports the establishment of the broad campus council for sustainability that is to be formed this summer. There’s an ongoing effort to fully understand how the university is affecting the environment, as well as an effort to determine other initiatives to be undertaken as UM pursues climate neutrality. Students, faculty and staff will be involved in all these efforts as the university continues to learn and make positive changes.

Jones thanked sustainability staff members who have kept the issue in the forefront at UM, including Banner and Anne McCauley, the office’s assistant director. Banner and McCauley thanked those who have been involved in the fight for sustainability.

“The Office of Sustainability is here to support and move these efforts forward, but it’s by no means something we do alone,” McCauley said. “We work with people all across campus.”

The chancellor also thanked poet and UM English professor Ann Fisher-Wirth, who directs the environmental studies minor and has been active in environmental issues. Fisher-Wirth said she sees the student body becoming more engaged in those issues.

“I’m especially grateful for the leadership from the university and also for the students who are just increasingly active and outspoken and so mindful,” Fisher-Wirth said.

The chancellor said the students have been one of the main driving forces behind UM’s commitment to climate neutrality.

“My highest thanks goes to our students, who are always our best inspiration for making this a stronger and better university on almost every topic,” Jones said. “Students, thank you for encouraging, cajoling, pressuring us to be a stronger and healthier university in lots of ways, including protecting our environment.”

Award-winning Writer, Environmentalist to Present Earth Day Lecture

Rob Nixon to discuss 'slow violence' and its long-term impact on the earth and human beings

Rob Nixon

Rob Nixon

OXFORD, Miss. – Rob Nixon, the Rachel Carson and Elizabeth Ritzmann Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, will discuss the slow, yet violent, impact created by events ranging from toxic drift to climate change for the University of Mississippi’s Earth Day keynote lecture.

The lecture, which is part of the university’s 2014 Green Week celebration, is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday (April 22) in the Overby Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.

Ann Fisher-Wirth, UM professor of English, heard Nixon speak last year and knew he was a good fit for Earth Day events.

“I heard Professor Nixon speak at last year’s conference for the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, a 1000-member organization with nine international affiliates,” Fisher-Wirth said. “His talk was so brilliant and far-reaching that I knew I would like to bring him to the University of Mississippi for our Earth Day Speaker’s Series.

“I hope that attendees will learn about the persistence of what he calls ‘slow violence,’ environmental violence that is inflicted on both the earth and human beings constantly, but that, since it is not sudden and catastrophic, is all too easy to ignore.”

Nixon asserts that because the destruction from these events is delayed destruction, it is typically not viewed as violence at all. Focusing on environmental activists from the global South, Nixon plans to link the emergencies of the long-term to creative efforts to infuse such emergencies with urgency.

“I hope that attendees will be inspired to further research, create awareness and take action,” Fisher-Wirth added.

Nixon is the author of four books, most recently “Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor” (Harvard University Press 2011), which has been awarded an American Book Award and three other prizes. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and his writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Village Voice and The Guardian.

He has been a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a MacArthur Foundation Peace and Security Award.

The lecture is sponsored by UM environmental studies minor, the College of Liberal Arts, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies, the Southern Documentary Project at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and the English and history departments.

Nixon is the third annual Earth Day speaker. Sandra Steingraber, an environmental toxicologist, delivered the inaugural lecture, which featured the work and legacy of Rachel Carson, and addressed issues concerning fracking. Last year, Janisse Ray, environmental activist and poet, gave a talk about seed preservation, sustainability and biodiversity in agriculture.