Feeding the Hungry, Sustainably

michaela shaw

Michaela Shaw ’16

Michaela Shaw ’16 knew she was interested in Dickinson when she learned about the college’s Edible Campus program, through which Dickinson’s grounds staff plants small vegetable and fruit gardens all over campus for all to enjoy. Today, Shaw is the chair of the student-led Food Advisory Council, which brings student suggestions and campus-dining initiatives to the table. She’s also the 2015-16 sustainability intern for Dining Services, and she’s changed the way the college makes use of surplus food from the Dining Hall.

Before, the Dining Hall donated some of the surplus through informal partnerships with local food bank Project Share, the Salvation Army and other organizations, and sent food waste to the College Farm for composting. Thanks to Michaela’s ideas and research, Dining Services now has a formal donation program in place to send food that cannot be served to the student population—either because it is nearing the end of its cooked or holding life, or because there are too few servings left—to the Salvation Army. Any remaining food will be composted at the College Farm.

Here, Michaela talks about the internship that sparked the program, her work off-campus, her love of rock climbing and more.


International business & management (Spanish minor).

Clubs and organizations:

The Dickinsonian (managing editor), Center for Sustainable Living (resident) and Food Advisory Council (chair).

Favorite book:

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.

Favorite movie:


On choosing Dickinson:

I remember being really intrigued by Dickinson’s edible campus … and a little bit skeptical, so I wanted to investigate further. Little did I know that sustainable food would become the focus of my time at Dickinson. After two years, you could find me harvesting sun gold tomatoes outside of KW.

Favorite place on campus:

The couch in the kitchen at the Treehouse.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Anything from the KOVE.

On studying abroad:

I studied abroad in Málaga, Spain, and some of my best memories are laughing with my host parents over paella during a late Sunday lunch.

In a perfect world …

… there would be no food waste. The fact that 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes to waste is so upsetting, which is part of the reason I set up a food donation program between Dining Services and The Salvation Army this semester. While Dickinson’s Dining Services and College Farm have had an informal partnership with a local food bank, Project SHARE, Dining Services did not previously have a formal donation program for excess food from the Dining Hall. Through the new partnership, Dickinson donates excess food to The Salvation Army to distribute to individuals and families in need.

On being a sustainability intern for Dickinson’s Dining Services:

Through this internship I have gained a unique perspective on the food system, and I have been able to reconcile and better understand the sometimes-opposing forces of business and sustainability. 

My favorite project was tracking down where some of Dining Services’ food products come from. This project was absolutely fascinating and surprising, and it gave me a unique glimpse into our crazy food system. The blueberries in the Dining Hall come from a farm in Pemberton, N.J.!

About my off-campus internship:

I was a communications intern for Rodale Institute, an experimental organic farm in the summer of 2014. This internship was great, because I was able to learn valuable public relations and media marketing skills, all while being at a beautiful working farm, allowing me to deepen my knowledge of sustainable agriculture and play with baby goats.

Little-known hobby:

I love rock climbing, and I work as a wall monitor at the rock wall in the Kline Center.

Learn more


Published May 20, 2016