University of Wisconsin–Madison

Refrigerator project will provide fresh produce access to campus

On June 16, UW-Madison senior Hannah DePorter will plug in the first refrigerator for her UW Campus Food Shed project on the third floor of the Student Activity Center (SAC). The project allows all students, faculty and staff to have access to fresh produce donated from the plant sciences research labs, the Greenhouse Learning Community and the F.H. King gardens.

DePorter conceived the idea for the project while working in Professor Irwin Goldman’s plant breeding and genetics lab. Her research involved visiting agricultural research stations around Wisconsin. As a research assistant and as an administrative director for F.H. King, she noticed an abundance of produce was composted in fields instead of eaten.

DePorter proposed a plan to Professor Irwin to set up refrigerators at sites around campus.  Excess produce donated by research labs or other campus organizations could be placed at these sites for pick-up by students, faculty and staff.

In response, Irwin helped DePorter to apply to the Kemper K. Knapp Bequest Grant, a fund for projects across one or more departments that have an impact on the educational and cultural life of the university community.

In Spring 2017, they received $5,000 to purchase four refrigerators for the UW Campus Food Shed project. The SAC refrigerator is one of the four that will be placed on campus. The future locations for the other three refrigerators are likely to be in Science Hall, Allen Centennial Gardens and Moore Hall.

“I think that produce is a very expensive item that not a lot of people can access frequently with campus and student budgets. College is expensive, so this project provides a space to make our campus more food secure,” says DePorter.

DePorter hopes the UW Campus Food Shed not only will provide better access to fresh produce on campus but also will reduce the amount of composted food and bring a greater awareness of locally grown Wisconsin crops.

For project updates and to receive further details about the grand opening of the SAC refrigerator, check the UW Campus Food Shed Facebook Page. For specific questions about the project or donation inquiries, email campusfoodshed@gmail.com.

By Trina La Susa