Emmanuel College is one of 140 local nonprofits to receive grants of $100,000 to $500,000 each through the Cummings Foundation’s $25 Million Grant Program.
The Urban Food Project at Emmanuel College aims to cultivate the next generation of food justice leaders, advocating for a food system that is diverse, equitable, resilient, sustainable and just.
The project was established in 2015 at Emmanuel’s Notre Dame Campus in Roxbury to educate students around food justice, food insecurity and urban gardening in the community.
President of the Urban Food Project (UFP) and the Indigenous Students Association (ISA), Angela Pillarella ’24, celebrates the continued success of the urban garden at the Notre Dame Campus, saying, “This semester had a robust harvest of Swiss chard, tomatoes, zucchini, squash and eggplant along with a plot in partnership with the ISA that consisted of popping corn, winter squash and beans.”
The group made weekly deliveries of produce this semester to the Nazareth Residence for Mothers and Children in Roxbury.
“I would love to see us expand more into our community in Roxbury through our Notre Dame Campus and be able to establish traditions moving forward,” Pillarella explains.
This year, the UFP has been working on building the club on campus through hosting “Open Greenhouse” hours every weeknight from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the once-forgotten greenhouse space that is located on the fourth floor of Marian Hall. The greenhouse offers a nice place for students to study, while the group also has members staffing the greenhouse in order to give plant advice and care for the plants.
The topic of food insecurity in the Boston area has for years been of interest to the Emmanuel community, with initiatives such as the Urban Food Project, Alternative Spring Break and the College's new academic minor in food studies allowing students to dive deeper into the issue. The UFP hopes to further harness the collective energies of the Emmanuel community to bring food justice and sustainability education, empowerment and engagement, along with action to the campus-wide community, the Colleges of the Fenway Boston, and beyond.
“I love the greenhouse—it’s very calming,” says Pillarella. “I spoke to some people that helped us maintain the plants over the summer and they shared that it was healing to be able to walk into a place and be able to care for the things around them. There is something to be said for green spaces and that’s what we are trying to create more of at Emmanuel.”