Addison Lively is passionate about 'real food' on campus

When Addison Lively signed up for a sustainability class her freshman year, she didn't have any expectations beyond fulfilling an elective requirement. But it wasn't long before she discovered her passion for agriculture, sustainable food and environmental issues.

"Halfway through freshman year I became obsessed with my sustainability class that I signed up for on a whim. I started looking at food through an agriculture and sustainable lens," Lively said. "One day I was looking through food data I was researching and realized it was super fascinating to me. Before that I had never even thought about food, agriculture or sustainability."

But the geography and environmental sustainability major quickly found a new passion and has spent her college career helping to make Indiana University Bloomington a more environmentally friendly campus through the food being offered to students.

Lively meets with IU dietitian Steven Lalevich in preperation for the Big Red Eats Green Event. Photo by Eric Rudd, Indiana University

Now a senior and an food intern at Sustain IU, Lively is getting ready to host the Big Red Eats Green event on campus. The food festival teaches students about eating real food through vendors, growers and producers that sell local and fairly sourced food to IU.

A big part of Lively's internship is planning the event, which she admits was intimidating at first, particularly because she had never planned such a large event. However, Lively has greeted the task head-on.

"It's exciting," she said. "Every little thing I do is a victory, from reserving the space to getting groups to represent themselves at the event. It feels good."

Not only has planning the annual event been a learning experience for Lively, but she said Big Red Eats Green is a way for students to increase their awareness about the food options on campus.

"The event helps students get a good sense of what it means for food to be local, fair and ecologically sustained," she said. "I want this event to be more than educational but engaging and long lasting. The goal is that when they leave, they walk through an IU dining hall and think about what they should be purchasing."

Her work is paying off. Geography instructor Angela Babb has worked closely with Lively since she was a freshman in various courses such as "Edible Education" and "Food and Poverty in America" and recommended her for internship at the Sustain IU.

"I've always really enjoyed working with Addison," Babb said. "She sticks to her word and follows through with every initiative. She's a really hard worker and genuinely interested in food justice and making the environments around her more sustainable with an equitable food system."

Babb had Lively's position in the past and said she has enjoyed watching her implement her own ideas in the event.

Lively discusses food items with IU dietitian Rachel Noirot in preparation for the upcoming event. Photo by Eric Rudd, Indiana University

In addition to planning Big Red, Lively also takes part in the Real Food Challenge, a national campaign that promotes the increase of local, fairly sourced, ecologically sound or humane food. IU is trying to uphold their real food commitment is working to increase its percentage of Real Food on campus. The goal of Big Red is to help increase awareness about this challenge and help students understand where they can get real food on campus.

"Big Red Eats Green is such a large event with lots going on; she has chosen to organize it a little differently," Babb said. "We are getting so close to the Real Food commitment, so she has changed the focus to IU Dining and getting students to walk away with one clear message that we need real food on campus, and IU Dining is getting us there. She's trying to uphold the previous formats and experiment with new ideas. I'm excited for her."

"The Real Food Challenge is the foundation of Big Red Eats Green," Lively said. "It so important for students to understand their food system on campus. I never understood it before and was blind to everything."

Lively also is a William R. Black Leadership Memorial Scholarship award recipient for exemplifying service to the discipline, community and geography department. She leads a food working group consisting of several active members who all contribute to the food system. She said she enjoys how sustainable IU is and that the campus is willing to make green changes and enhance its sustainability efforts.

"Various people and groups wanted to help get involved and make it a collaborative event," Lively said. "All of the Sustain IU interns are working together to promote a more sustainable IU. I am happy to have a community of people helping me along the way."