Many organizations in St. Louis are connected with each other, and WashU professors also often work with these organizations.

Hunger/Food Access/Food Justice

  • A Red Circle: A Red Circle’s mission statement is “the holistic betterment of our community, reversing the effects of racism one person and cause at a time.” They do relationship building work in North County. Volunteer opportunities are available through their get involved page.
  • MetroMarket: The MetroMarket is a non-profit mobile farmers’ market that increases access to healthy, affordable food in St. Louis. Jobs may be available through their jobs section.
  • Operation Food Search: Operation Food Search is a nonprofit organization based in St. Louis. Their goal is to end hunger in the region, and they work toward this goal by distributing free food and through their nutrition education programs. For volunteer opportunities, visit their volunteer section.
    • Lenora Gooden and Caroline Vogl spoke of their experiences with OFS:
      • What does a typical day look like? Depending on the season, the day looks very different. In the summer, there is a lot of going out and working with the farmers and gardeners and getting activities going. In the winter, there is a lot more working with numbers and preparing for the season.
      • What are some of your favorite aspects of the job? Caroline spoke about her love for gleaning and events going out to the farms and interacting with volunteers. Lenora agreed, highlighting her love of interacting with people all while being outside!
      • What are some challenges? Working with volunteers can sometimes be difficult as there is often turnover and an entire pantry can slow down services with the departure of one volunteer. Also, it is challenging to rely on donations. Food banks rely on donors for nearly all of their food which is not the most sustainable form of functioning. 
      • What advice would you give to undergraduate students interested in going into this field? Caroline, a recent college graduate, shared her advice: go into situations with an open mind and be ready and excited for anything! Lenora discussed the importance of flexibility, as every day is different at a food bank-type of operation. She also advises all individuals to be passionate about what they are doing! “Get into a field that you are passionate about… the money will come. You can have all the money in the world, but if you hate what you’re doing, you’ll be miserable.” Her last bit of advice, specific to working with non-profits, was to make sure you are aligned with the mission statement of the non-profit you are working with. If you focus on the mission, everything will work out. Realistically, there will be great days… and not great days. Nonetheless, if you are aligned with the mission and are true to yourself, you will always love it at heart. If you pick a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. 
    • For students interested in getting involved with OFS, keep an eye out for gleaning opportunities over the summer! Also, if you are interested in volunteering, reach out to individuals at OFS. 
  • United People Market: United People Market do education, food access and community building work. Part of their work includes supporting community gardens and pop up markets.

Growing

  • EarthDance Farms: EarthDance is a teaching farm that follows organic practices. They have several different programs, which include apprentice and youth programs as well as classes for general public. For volunteer opportunities, visit their volunteer page.
    • Tiffany Brewer, Program Manager at EarthDance, spoke of her experiences:
      • On a typical day at EarthDance: There is not really a typical day, which is part of the excitement of the job. Some days are full of meetings (like communicating with school districts etc.) and there are a lot of hands on aspects too?
      • On her favorite aspects of EarthDance: Brewer loves working with youth. She likes sharing and exploring and watching their eyes light up because they don’t realize certain things are grown a certain way on a certain plant- or they’ve never seen a carrot pulled out of the ground. There is also a sense of peace just working in the fields, putting your hands in the soil, and getting out of the screens.
      • On ways EarthDance has pivoted and adjusted from the pandemic: The food doesn’t stop growing. Therefore, EarthDance has changed their distribution model. A main change is a pay what you can model. They still have wholesale clients and they make donations, but they began incorporating a pay what you can. At the farmer’s market, they would have a bag of produce and patrons would be able to access it at a pay what you can rate. If you have nothing, you could still register and receive free produce. If you have whatever the retail value of the product is, you can have that. Or they could even leave a donation to help the folks who could not afford it. They have begun incorporating that as a model on their on-site farm stand.
      • On advice to undergraduate students interested in going into the food and agriculture industry: Get involved with an organization that shares a common interest and mission! Brewer said “I always advise students to intern or apprentice with an organization that shares a mission or does the thing that they are interested in pursuing as a career. There is no substitute for doing the hands on thing that you really want to do. That will really guide and shape your perception and perspective on not only the impact, but is this what you feel you want to do for the next 20 years if that’s something you commit to. Or it might just be something you want to do for 10 years and then veer off into a different aspect of the industry, but you don’t know if you’re not involved in it directly. So continue to seek out those internships and partnerships to really learn the ins and outs.
    • Ways for students to get involved with EarthDance:
      • Service learning: orientation begins in March and there is one every month with the expectation that volunteers come once a week and in return, they receive a share of the produce.
      • Summer apprenticeship: 10 week paid summer program in partnership with AmeriCorps
      • Be sure to follow EarthDance on social media and check their website for more information on volunteering and working with EarthDance:
        • Instagram: @earthdancefarms
  • Seed St. Louis: Seed St. Louis educates and empowers people through gardening and urban agriculture, offering sustainable urban agriculture projects. Visit their volunteer section for volunteer opportunities.
  • Urban Harvest STL: Urban Harvest builds community around inclusive and resilient local food systems while also promoting food accessibility. They grow produce at each of several different farms in St. Louis and donate most of the product to local nonprofits that serve communities with limited access to healthy food. They also work on education and are known for their FOOD ROOF, located in downtown St. Louis. They offer internships, apprenticeships, and volunteer opportunities as an opportunity to learn urban farming skills and connect with the community.
    • Jamie Wallace, Interim Executive Director, spoke of her experiences with Urban Harvest:
      • On the importance of food accessibility: “Accessing fresh healthy food is just really challenging… Especially when there are an abundance of corner markets and liquor stores selling prepackaged food and food that’s not healthy and we understand of course that healthy food provides a baseline for so many activities… So are you able to participate in school? For kids, a lot of the time if they’re hungry it becomes challenging so it impacts their education. It certainly impacts health and health outcomes; incidence of diabetes and heart disease and things like that.”
      • On her favorite aspects of Urban Harvest: “I really value the ability to share the work we do. An aspect that doesn’t get talked about a ton is the therapeutic aspect of gardening. Just being outside and being with the plants and getting your hands dirty. I think that applies to everyone from the preschoolers that we work with to adults who are coming to the farm and volunteering and taking a break from their usual workday or errands…I think that the value of spending time outdoors and in nature with plants and seeing where your food is coming from. I think that is really important and feels almost magical because in our society now that’s not something built in. Gardening and growing food used to be much more common…But now with the globalization of the food industry it’s not something that everyone participates in.”
      • On advice for undergraduate students: “I would say volunteer. Get hands on. Try to be present…Showing up and doing the work. You gotta get your hands dirty, you gotta get hands on. There’s only so much you can do behind a computer screen. I would encourage you…to get uncomfortable a little bit and put yourself in a situation that’s a little unfamiliar because that’s how you learn and grow. Work hard and be communicative and make connections! Getting involved and being engaged is really important and can go a long way.” 
      • Be sure to check out their website to learn about opportunities to get involved!

Food Economy

  • Eat Here Saint Louis: Eat Here Saint Louis works with farmers in the region who grow high-quality produce, raise sustainable meat, and make dairy, grains and other products. They work with chefs in the area to bring this local food to the city. You can contact them via their website. Click here to learn more. 
  • Fair Shares CCSA (Combined Community Supported Agriculture): Fair Shares runs a CCSA program, where local farmers and producers deliver food directly to Fair Shares, who distribute it to their members each week. 
  • HOSCO (Holistic Organic Sustainable Cooperatives): HOSCO are a sustainable food cooperative incubator for economic development, and their goal is to increase the economic viability of careers in the local good system. They offer several training courses on a variety of topics.
  • Find Your Farmer: FYF is a business to connect local farmers and artisans with individuals in the St. Louis area. Started by WashU alumni, one goal is for individuals to learn more about the food system. Click here to learn more. 

Environment

  • EarthDay365: EarthDay365’s mission is to create a more sustainable and equitable St. Louis. They host one of the largest Earth Day celebrations in the country. One of their main programs is the Green Dining Alliance.
    • Green Dining Alliance: Green Dining Alliance offers certifications of restaurants in sustainability and works toward lowering restaurants’ environmental impact. The Green Dining Alliance is part of the nonprofit organization St. Louis Earth Day.
    • Ben Daugherty spoke about his experiences with EarthDay365:
      • How did you get involved with EarthDay365? Daugherty came from a heavy background in the restaurant scene, working at places like Salt + Smoke and Magic House. He got into sustainability about 2-3 years ago; it was a field he felt was super broad and there are so many ways to get involved. He knew about EarthDay365 and the Green Dining Alliance and thought it would be a great fit that aligned with his passion for restaurants and sustainability. 
      • What does a typical day at EarthDay365 look like for you? There is a lot to do every day. Throughout COVID, restaurants have been through so much. For Green Dining Alliance, it’s important to begin reaching back out again. There is lots of collaboration both internally and externally, leveraging together resources for an even greater impact. He also is involved with projects, grants, phone calls, emails, and audits. In fact, many of his responsibilities lie in the audits. An audit consists of going into a restaurant, sitting down with the owner/head chef, and talking about the operations of the facility from an environmental standpoint. 
      • What are some of your favorite parts of EarthDay365? Daugherty said he loves tackling the big issue of how to make a positive difference on an individual basis in a community. It is so important to create a platform that is accessible to a diverse number of people (trying to reach all neighborhoods). Making information accessible and tangible programs possible is huge in the pursuit to spread awareness about sustainability. Daugherty also said he loves the staff at EarthDay365: they are inspiring people who have done a tremendous amount of work in the community around being stewards of the environment. 
      • What are some challenges you face? One challenge is making sure to not bite off more than you can chew. As a non-profit, EarthDay365 only has 5 employees; therefore, one of the biggest aspects is making sure they have smart goals they can accomplish and get metrics and results. Another challenge is overcoming language barriers. Lastly, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic they have faced a new challenge of how to best support restaurants. One goal is to help make restaurants into more cost-effective businesses. Sometimes to become more sustainable, there are a lot of costs upfront which make these efforts very challenging (this form of support and education fall largely among the Green Dining Alliance).
      • What advice would you have for an undergraduate student interested in going into this broad field? Utilize your resources! Ben explained how he has gotten a lot out of volunteering with different organizations and just generally talking with people. People in this industry love to talk and share their knowledge.
    • If you are interested in engaging with EarthDay365, check their website for upcoming internships and volunteer opportunities. 
  •  Missouri Coalition for the Environment: Missouri Coalition for the Environment is an independent, citizens’ environmental organization for clean water, clean air, clean energy and a health environment. They work on a variety of topics (policy, food justice, working with local farmers.
    • Food & Farm program with multiple internships offered during the academic year and summer
    • Farm to University Intern Network (FUIN): brings together students and staff/faculty from universities in the St. Louis region to work together toward increasing local, sustainable food purchasing. You can get involved by working with MCE to lead and direct the network, or you can get involved on behalf of WashU. Students are currently involved through working at the Office of Sustainability, but other interested students are welcome to contact Rae Miller (MCE’s Local Food Coordinator) at rmiller@moenviron.org.
    • Known and Grown: Known and Grown works to support and spread awareness about chemical-free farmers in the greater St. Louis area. This is a part of MCE and specifically on behalf of the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition. Click here for a local food locator!
    • Melissa Vatterott spoke about her experiences with MCE:
      • What was your path to MCE? Vatterott studied Environmental Science with a minor in Agricultural Economics in undergrad. She went on to law school with the path of going into environmental law. While in law school, she interned with MCE where she began researching information on what we’re eating and growing, the size of farms, soil quality, and more in St. Louis. This became the St. Louis Regional Food Study, first published in 2014 (with updates in 2019). With the release of this study, MCE had great interest from members and secured funding to start MCE’s food and farming program. From here, Vatterott eventually found five gaps in the food system in the region and brought people together as a collective to share the findings. She asked if it would be valuable to form a collaborative space to work on these goals, and people said yes! Because of this, they formed the MCE Food Policy Coalition.
      • What does a typical day at MCE look like for you? Every day is packed with a variety of different responsibilities. The general trend is very collaborative work, both internally and externally. Policy and outreach teams work with people in Missouri and what might impact them. They go through strategy of how to reach out to people in Missouri. The policy side often deals with lobbying and meetings with their lobbyists. Vaterrott explained how her days often consist of lots of meetings, emails, virtual lobby events, data collection (proving issues and health concerns in order to begin tackling them legislatively), and more. 
      • What are some of your favorite aspects of MCE/the food industry? Working with farmers! The outreach team at MCE engages with a network of farmers through the Known and Grown program. Farmers are so critical to humanity. We need food. We need to help them stay in business and industrial agriculture makes that so hard to happen. Farmers have a lived experience, and it is so impactful for legislators to hear them. Additionally, Vatterott said she loves engaging with people on the ground across the state! It is so powerful to hear what they have to say and strategizing collaboratively with people all across Missouri who experience the same environmental harms. 
      • What are challenges you have to overcome? Missouri’s government/regulators/agencies/legislators are tied to industrial agriculture. They often think sustainable agriculture is niche farming and not the future. Therefore, it can be hard to gain support for certain bills. Vatterott also explained how hard it is when MCE demonstrates why certain bills harm the environment and should not be passed (in one instance gaining over 800 published comments from the public!) Even though this can be disheartening, it is so crucial to remain showing up no matter the outcome. Show up and submit comments and testify because if you don’t go on record, no one has any reason to vote the other way and it looks like the bills have full support. 
      • What advice would you give to an undergraduate student? Vatterott suggests talking to as many people who already work in the field! She also emphasized the importance of educating yourself. “Always carry information with you!” Each individual can have an impact on society. For instance, thinking about consumption, look at foods like granola bars. While the food itself may be sustainably made, it is wrapped in plastic and then put in a cardboard box. Try to be conscious of this consumption and limit it! Eat more whole foods that do not require packages or ingredients that extract from the Earth. 
      • How can WashU students engage with MCE? There are lots of ways to engage! These include policy internships, outreach positions, volunteering, and more. Stayed tuned for more information on how to engage with MCE!

General

  • St. Louis Food Policy Coalition (STLFPC): The STLFPC brings together people and organizations working in St. Louis’ local food system to coordinate programs and other work being done. Community members can get involved by joining a workgroup who is a member of the coalition.
  • Sauce Magazine: A magazine devoted to promoting St. Louis’ culinary scene. Sauce Magazine editorial internship is open for students to apply to.
    • Sauce seeks students with a passion for the St. Louis food scene who want to translate that love to print and online media. As a Sauce editorial intern, you will:

      • Assist Sauce editorial team with the production of the monthly print publication and daily online products. Duties include, but are not limited to, reporting, conducting interviews, writing and contributing to online and print articles, fact checking, assisting with research for upcoming articles, interview transcription, etc.

        • Hone your reporting, writing and editing skills with the goal of producing published clips for use in future portfolios

        • Perform other duties as assigned

        • This internship is unpaid. Scheduling is flexible, but the intern must be available about 5 to 10 hours a week.

    • Interested applicants may submit a cover letter, resume, semester class and/or work schedule and three to five writing clips to Lauren Healey at pr@saucemagazine.com. No calls, please.