Shelbi Jentz knew that CALS would open her eyes to new ideas, but she didn’t think a whole new way of eating would be one of them.
“I’ve always been interested in human health and the environment, but as a high schooler I had a hard time connecting the two,” says Jentz. “After coming to Madison and reading up on the Slow Food movement, I realized that the two are intricately connected.”
Jentz got involved with Slow Food UW–Madison, the campus branch of a global grassroots organization with supporters in more than 150 countries. Founded some 20 years ago in Italy, Slow Food’s mission is to counter the rise of fast food by supporting locally grown food and accompanying traditions.
Slow Food–UW offers a wide range of activities. During the school year the group prepares and serves weekly lunches and dinners as well as fruit and vegetable baskets using produce from local farms and small wholesalers. Slow Food UW also conducts service projects year-round, including planting gardens and cooking weekly meals with kids in the Boys and Girls Club in south Madison.
“We’re teaching kids how to eat healthy and are supporting a better future for their bodies and their community—environmentally, economically and socially,” says Jentz, who helped submit a successful Wisconsin Idea Fellowship grant to expand the program. “It’s great to know that my weekly fun break from homework is making a difference!”
Jentz graduates in December with a degree in community and environmental sociology, but she’ll continue to work with young people through Slow Food; she’d like to add children with disabilities to the program, inspired in part by a younger brother with autism. Her plans include earning a master’s degree in public health and then going for her big dream: to start a business on her family’s farm in Platteville that would combine operating a café and organic farming with raising animals (particularly horses) for use in therapy and a day camp where “people, especially those with disabilities, can learn to grow and cook for themselves and others in the community.”
This student profile was originally published in the Fall 2012 issue of Grow magazine.