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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Patrons laugh over their homemade shared meal at Slow Food UW on March 18, 2024.

Slow Food UW fights food insecurity with community

The smell of tostadas drifts under your nose as you watch the people around you smile. You’re eating with friends, family and people you’ve never met before. It’s nice to share a meal, easy to connect over trying something new. 

This is made possible by Slow Food UW, a student-run nonprofit organization dedicated to providing good, clean and fair food for the Madison community.

“It’s a space where you can sit next to someone you've never sat next to, and you know sitting next to someone sharing a meal, you kind of automatically start connecting with them,” said Celeste Kim, Slow Food co-director. 

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Student volunteers mash and add seasoning to refried beans.

At either dinner on Mondays or lunch on Wednesdays, community members can pay $6-8 for locally sourced, healthy and inclusive meals served in a dining hall style to encourage new connections.

The entire staff — cooks, cashiers, interns and everyone in between — works unpaid to provide food to their community. 

“It’s useful,” said student volunteer Matteo Kozlowski. “You’re just bringing smiles, and it makes you happy that you can share a good meal with everyone as well.”

“It’s heartwarming that they are constantly doing this for their community,” Slow Food co-director Graham Stigler said. “It’s nice to be a part of that.”

Slow Food believes in food for all, pushing back against systematic divides in society its leaders say cause limited food access. “Food [insecurity] is a result of division in society itself,” Stigler said. 

Many factors contribute to food insecurity including socioeconomic status, racial disparities and underfunding of certain ethnic communities, Kim added.

“The biggest thing we're fighting against is that we don't want to have that divide between everyone here,” Kim added. “We want to be able to provide for everyone we can.”


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Parents and their children have a family dinner.


This inclusivity creates a diverse community of attendees, from college-age students to parents and their children.

Kim also said Slow Food UW is a place for students to make friends outside their major, something helpful for those that tend to “stay in their own route.”

“It was really good food, and I enjoyed eating with my friends,” UW-Madison freshman Maddie Lawson said. “There’s a lot of friendly faces greeting you and just all around.”

Although Lawson and her friends didn’t meet anyone new during their first visit, they all agreed they would love to make new friends next time they came. 


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Mary Bosch

Mary Bosch is the photo editor for The Daily Cardinal and a first year journalism student. She has covered multiple stories about university sustainability efforts, and has written for state and city news. Follow her on twitter: @Mary_Bosch6

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