What Is The Green Monday Initiative?

Maria H.

The Green Monday initiative aims to reduce the Claremont Colleges carbon footprint by highlighting plant-based foods and significantly reducing the amount of meat offered at Monday lunches. The initiative was born out of a collaboration between Claremont Students for Animals (CSA) and Pitzer’s Eco-Center. Two years ago, the groups realized that they had a mutual interest in reducing consumption of animal products at the 5cs, but it wasn’t until this year that they began regularly meeting to implement their ideas. Throughout the Spring Semester, members from both groups have worked to negotiate with dining managers at Pitzer and Scripps, sent out surveys to gain student insight, and tabled at four campus dining halls on Earth day.

Students tabling for Green Monday. Photo by Carly Dennis

This is not the first initiative of its kind at the Claremont Colleges. Frary, Pitzer, and Scripps attempted to go entirely Meatless on Mondays over five years ago. According to dining managers Cindy Bennington and Garrick Hisamoto, the dining halls received too much pushback and lost too much revenue to continue the program. Only Frary has maintained “Meatless Mainline” to this day. However, similar initiatives have been adopted successfully by universities across the country including Columbia University, Colby College, Colorado College, Dartmouth College, University of Notre Dame, University of California Berkeley and many more.

Kailey McNeal, a Pitzer second-year and co-president of CSA, has devoted her focus on negotiating Green Mondays for Pitzer, and has found that the biggest obstacle in implementing the initiative has been a “lack of education when it comes to our food” and the fact that many students are “unaware of the intersection between food and social justice issues.”

McNeal believes that social justice and food on campus are inextricably intertwined. “Pitzer’s current curriculum does not do a good job of exposing students to the impact our food choices have on the health of rural and low-income communities of color.”

Similarly, Pitzer first-year Ryder Mitchell found that his Introduction to Environmental Analysis course did not adequately address issues related to food so much as it did  other environmental injustices. In fact, food justice is not one of the four tracks offered in the Environmental Analysis major and Pitzer won’t be offering any courses with an explicit food justice focus in the coming Fall 2019 semester.

It is due to this lack of student education that the McConnell dining hall management has expressed concerns regarding potentially reduced attendance if the initiative were to be implemented. McNeal has found the pushback especially disheartening given that both Pitzer College and Bon Appetit, Pitzer’s dining hall service, claim to value environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Pitzer first-year and EcoCenter leader, Carly Dennis,  also spoke to this.

“[There is] work that needs to be done in translating [our] values into concrete steps…it is a matter of making action easy and accessible,” she said.  

This is what the Green Monday Initiative aims to do.

CSA has tried to increase support for veganism and vegetarianism by planning trips to farm sanctuaries, hosting vegan snack events, and tabling throughout the semester. Pitzer student senators Leah Kelly ‘21, Emily Kuhn ‘22, and Justin Sleppy ‘21 have also done their part, as they presented a resolution in support of the Green Mondays initiative in last Sunday’s senate meeting. The resolution is currently pending approval by the faculty and administration, but passed unanimously with student senate. Later this week, signed copies will be presented to President Melvin Oliver, the General Manager of Bon Appetit, the Vice President of Student Affairs, the Dean of Campus Life and other officials. Although resolutions are merely recommendations to Pitzer’s administrators, they do demonstrate student support for an initiative.

The flyer for the original Green Monday

Sodexo, the dining hall service of Scripps College, has implemented the Green Mondays initiative as of April 29, 2019, and will do so for the rest of the semester on a trial basis. If the initiative is well received, Green Mondays will become a regular fixture at the Mallot dining hall, and will likely increase support from Bon Appetit’s managers. McNeal was moved to tears by Scripps’ decision, and says that this step has “given her hope for the future of dining at the 5Cs and beyond.”

To learn more about how the Green Mondays initiative is unfolding, you can follow Claremont Students for Animals and EcoCenter on Facebook, attend CSA’s bi-weekly Wednesday dinners at Collins or EcoCenter’s weekly 6 pm meetings in the Grove House. Contact kmcneal@students.pitzer.edu to be added to the Green Mondays email list.

Maria H is a first year at Pitzer originally from Cartagena, Colombia. She hopes to major in Political Studies and minor in French.

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