Produce alights on Cleary Walkway

Students host a food cart to promote a healthier lifestyle.


Students walk on the T. Anne Cleary walkway on Thursday, Jan. 21. Ridge and Furrow, better known as the "brain rock" is located on the T. Anne Cleary walkway. (The Daily Iowan/ Alex Kroeze)

By Sarah Stortz

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In contrast to eating ramen noodles and microwavable pizzas, many University of Iowa students were able to take home freshly grown produce for free Wednesday afternoon.

As a part of their final project, students in the Tippie College of Business organized the Spring Produce Cart on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway, offering fresh food to students passing by for free. This event was also a conjunction between the University of Iowa Gardeners Club and the University of Iowa Student Government.

According to event’s Facebook page, the purpose of this produce cart was to address the issues of sustainable living and food insecurity on campus.

The produce came at a first-come, first-serve basis, with food running out an hour after the cart opened.

UISG and UI Gardeners providing the Tippie students a list of contacts of where they could get fresh produce. Both organizations also promoted the event and handled administrative matters.

UISG President Jacob Simpson said he helped advise the students on how to host a fresh produce cart, as UISG did a similar event last semester.

“Students face food insecurity at a surprising rate,” Simpson said. “Just because a student isn’t hungry, doesn’t mean they aren’t food insecure. They could be eating something like ramen, but it’s not healthy food that they’re eating.”

UI junior Rita Guzman, the main organizer of the event, said she participated in this event as part of her final for the business class, “Marketing and Sustainability.”

“We wanted to something that not only had an impact but had minimal food waste,” Guzman said.

In preparation for the spring cart, Guzman said her group researched where people can buy shares of food from local farmers. They’ve also discovered that local produce tends to be cheaper than buying regular groceries.

If the group had any leftovers, which they didn’t, the remaining food would have gone to the Food Pantry in the IMU.

“We’ve learned food insecurity is a major issue on campus,” Guzman said. “We wish were able to give out a lot more food to more people, but we definitely know that in the fall, UISG and the gardeners will have another food cart with a lot more food and a bigger variety. We mostly just had green vegetables to cook with.”

UI junior Sarah Flores, another student behind the cart, said the experience helped cultivate her business skills.

“Going into business, you never think of it in terms of sustainability,” Flores said. “Those in the business world are kind of the backbone for our nation, so it’s our responsibility to give back to the world.”

Despite feeling they could have provided more, Guzman said she was satisfied to help students in need.

“We were happy with the turnout which means people on campus are about eating healthy,” she said. “I know our diets can be very stressful. Students tend to skip meals a lot and they do go hungry. We wanted to make sure that students were getting healthy foods for free.”

Simpson said UI students should still continue eating fresh produce outside of visiting the cart.

“We hope that students take advantage of the farmers markets around Iowa City and better utilize our community,” he said.

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