Andrew Spencer, a third year student at the University of St. Thomas, is a student leader who works to address issues surrounding food inequity in the Twin Cities. Through his involvement with BrightSide Produce, a group based out of St. Thomas working to achieve food justice in the Twin Cities, Andrew has partnered with individuals across the Twin Cities to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Andrew has taken a lead in expanding an on-campus fresh produce "Buyers Club" program which has increased healthy eating on campus and provided financial support for BrightSide's weekly produce deliveries to food insecure neighborhoods. Recently Andrew helped start an "office fruit bowl" program on campus where offices and residence halls made fresh fruit available to students and staff members while also financially supporting BrightSide's work in food insecure neighborhoods. Andrew also co-edits BrightSide's monthly newsletter, helping to expand BrightSide's customer base and support network. Andrew's dedication to justice and equity also led him to participate in HECUA's Inequality in America program this fall where he interned with the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, working to advance economic justice for workers in the metro area.
Justice, peace, and equity are values I care most about and hope to work in my life to advance. These values have driven me to dedicate a large amount of my time in college to working on issues related to food insecurity in the Twin Cities. Everyone deserves access to fresh fruits and vegetables and it is unconscionable to me that large portions of our country's population do not have this access. What drew me to the work of BrightSide Produce, a student group on campus dedicating to alleviating food insecurity in the Twin Cities, was their collaborative approach to addressing these issues. BrightSide partners with individuals from communities impacted by food insecurity to address many of the underlying economic and logistical causes of food insecurity. In doing so, BrightSide acknowledges that there are structural barriers to equitable access to food justice that must be overcome. The best way to overcome these challenges is through authentic collaboration across communities, whereby those most impacted by the injustice take leadership in creating solutions. I believe this is the most just approach to social change and the one that is most likely to create sustainable, long-term, and equitable solutions to our society's problems.