GPSG creates local-restaurant passport for climate-conscious eating

UI Graduate and Professional Student Government recently created a local-restaurant map to promote climate-conscious eating habits. The initiative stems from the organization’s Sustainability Committee's response to climate strikes and activism in the community.

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GPSG creates local-restaurant passport for climate-conscious eating

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter

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The University of Iowa’s Graduate and Professional Student Government seeks to showcase local restaurants through climate-conscious menu items within the Iowa City community — specifically its food scene.

GPSG Sustainability Committee Co-Chairs Christian Bako and Amina Grant proposed the passport. The pair began working on the project last academic year, Bako said.

“This idea was inspired by something called the ‘Pub Pass’ up in the Twin Cities,” Bako said. “You can grab a pass and go to multiple breweries up there. I thought it was a pretty cool idea and knew we could take it back to Iowa City and take it from the sustainability angle to integrate it into GPSG’s work.”

GPSG President Dexter Golinghorst said the co-chairs applied for the Iowa City Community Climate Action Grant, which allows for the project to be funded in the short term.

“Part of my goal as president has been to empower GPSG committee chairs to complete projects that they are interested in and that they think can help the community or the university,” Golinghorst said. “Christian and Amina have been a dynamic duo for the past two years, and they applied for the grant application and have been working with the city to iron out the details and make this project a reality.”

RELATED: GPSG executives remain in position, strive to make group more present on campus

Golinghorst added that this grant empowered the project and funded it for at least the first year. If the pilot works, he said, GPSG would like to expand the project, because not all students GPSG serves live in Iowa City.

One of GPSG’s goals with the passport project is climate consciousness. UI freshman Dylan Morgan, member of climate-activist group Sunrise Movement, said this is a necessary focus in all aspects of students’ lives.

“It’s incredibly important to focus on climate action in our daily lives in order to prevent the future impacts of climate change,” Morgan said. “It’s important to eat less meat and buy locally.”

RELATED: UISG, GPSG unanimously pass resolution to fight climate change

Bako said the Sustainability Committee is growing steadily because of Golinghorst’s expansion of committees beyond the GPSG delegates. He said members reached out to 14 different restaurants in the community. Local coffee shop Cortado has been an avid supporter of the project since it was first presented to them, Bako added.

“Cortado has been on board since the beginning,” he said. “La Regia Taqueria is another restaurant who fit the three standards we created when asking for menu items. We wanted to encourage a plant-rich diet and the purchase of local products while expanding community gardens and access to healthy, local foods.”

Golinghorst said he saw Bako’s and Grant’s idea as a great opportunity to develop meaningful partnerships between the UI and Iowa City communities. It also has the capacity to be more than just a pilot project for GPSG, he said.

“It’s targeted at students right now,” Golinghorst said. “But the other piece of it is that this is a model for other projects in the community that wouldn’t have to live with student government. In the long term, this could be more community-based. This is an opportunity for more than just GPSG.”

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