Students Feeding Students

A new partnership at Bard at BPL provides over 200 meals a week for students

Much of the success and individuality of the Bard Microcolleges are derived from the community partners they are formed with and a new partnership at Bard at BPL is adding even more richness and support for students.

Finalized before the start of the Spring 2022 semester, Bard at BPL is now working with Rethink Food and Emma’s Torch to provide accessible, nutritious, quality meals for Bard at BPL students during the academic year. Along with the cultural and academic resources derived through the microcollege’s partnership with the Brooklyn Public Library, this new partnership with Rethink and Emma’s Torch provides an added layer of support for students, given the ever-rising price of food throughout New York City.

The cafeteria that operates out of Central Library is run by Emma’s Torch, whose mission is to empower refugees, asylees, and survivors of human trafficking through culinary education. Of the partnership, Lauren Kaufman, Director of Programs at Rethink Food, detailed:

At Rethink Food, our mission is to create a more sustainable and equitable food system — one where everyone has access to healthy and affordable food. Our programs — Rethink Certified and the Rethink Commissary Kitchen — are designed to address food insecurity, use underutilized food, and make sure everyone can get access to nutritious meals.

We are proud to be partnering with the Emma’s Torch café at Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) to facilitate a “students feeding students” model, in which weekly meals prepared through their culinary apprenticeship are provided for Bard at BPL students pursuing a full-scholarship college program after being previously deterred or excluded from higher education. Together, we are serving more than 200 meals per week for Bard at BPL students to enjoy both on-site and at home with their families.

Students are thankful for both the food and service being provided. The kitchen at Emma’s Torch provides hot and cold meals so students can also take home food for their families or to eat later in the day.

Rethink has been a terrific partner in meeting students where they are in terms of need. Food distribution originally occurred on a day when only class was held but to reduce waste and increase participation, Rethink adjusted the schedule with Emma’s Torch so that food could be distributed every day, Monday through Thursday. Rethink is also focused on receiving student feedback to ensure that they craft menus that reflect students’ culinary tastes and backgrounds.

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