Through Undergraduate Research and Senior Comps Projects, students at Occidental have been able to pursue their own research on food-related topics. Clubs and funds also allow for students to get involved in the food discussion.
With over 100 student clubs and organizations at Occidental, there are a number of food-related clubs for students to join. Baking Club, Beekeepers of Oxy, Challah for Hunger, Ethical Consumerism of Coffee, FEAST, Veg Club, and WellFed all allow students to get involved by participating in student gardening, discussing the importance of local produce, or trying their hand at cooking. Students also have the opportunity to start their own club and request funding from the Renewable Energy & Sustainability Fund for speakers and supplies. At the Occidental Weekly, the College's official newspaper, students write a number of articles that cover stories about food-related news on campus and the greater Los Angeles community.
Students have the opportunity to volunteer at off-campus organizations that focus on food. Coordinated by the Office of Community Engagement, students volunteer during Oxy's Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Week of Service at participating organizations such as Solano Canyon Community Garden, Food Forward, and the LA Community Garden. Occidental's Greek Council and individual Greek organizations like Delta Omicron Tau also enagage in community service at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and Food Forward.
Occidental connects its students with internships at a variety of organizations that incorporate food into their missions. Oxy's Career Development Center offers summer donor-funded internships in Los Angeles, CA and Portland, OR. These internship programs, known as Intern LA and Intern PDX, pay students over the summer to work and learn at organizations that reflect students' interests, including food. In the summer of 2014, students in the program interned at Food Forward, DineEquity, and Sustainable Harvest.
In the fall of 2011, Occidental's Food Justice House was founded, allowing 7-8 students to live together in a tight-knit community, discuss food practices, tend their own garden, and implement good food practices in their daily lives. In addition to pursing food justice in daily life, these students also host events, serve the surrounding community, and update a blog about goings-on in the house, news about Los Angeles, and other related topics.
Through undergraduate research, Occidental students have been pursuing their own greater understanding of food-related issues. Students, in conjunction with faculty advisors, engage in research on food through coursework, independent studies, campus summer research fellowships, senior comprehensive projects, and other research opportunities in the greater Los Angeles area. While students have written senior theses on diverse topics over the years, the following are a few examples of recent research:
In the summer of 2013, Dani Lyons conducted research through a Richter Fellowship to understand what opportunities and challenges exist for increasing food security in Cape Town, South Africa, and if spatial or demographic factors might affect locations where food insecurity is prevalent.
In 2010, Michael Fox researched Los Angeles' Summer Food Service Program to evaluate its health impact on the children who were participating.
Deborah Chun has been conducting research over the last two summers on perception and taste, including a study on color's effect on food in 2010.
An evaluation of soundscape and fine dining in New York City by Lauren Bunnell analyzed how sound in restaurants affect a patron's eating experience.
Looking at culture and food, Kryshawn Hooks compared how Ethiopian cuisine is consumed differently in Los Angeles and Ethiopia.
Students' projects in their Senior years have also provided an area for students to further pursue their understanding of food and its relation to many different areas of study. Senior Comps projects relating to food have been written in the Art History Visual Arts, Sociology, Religious Studies, Cognitive Science, and Urban and Environmental Studies departments. A wide range of topics have also been explored, from Beyond Cravings: Gender and Class Desires in Chocolate Marketing by Jamal Fahim, 2010, about the marketing of chocolate to consumers, to Health Care and Healthy Food: An Examination of Sustainable Food Purchasing Practices in U.S. Hospitals, by Tyler Morgan, 2012. Between the social justice, scientific, and theoretical aspects of food consumption, students at Oxy have begun their own discussions about food.