What is food justice?

What is food justice?

“Food Justice views hunger as a result of unjust social dynamics including racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism. Food justice advocates for policies which rebalance food systems in terms of social inequalities, such as government support for farmers of color, marginalized communities of color with poor food access, and exploited workers.” – The Louisville Fellowship of Reconciliation

In other words….food justice addresses the inequality between who gets to eat a variety of healthier and culturally-competent food options and who does not.

What does food justice have to do with health and wellness?

Here at Student Wellness, we like to think of wellness in terms of dimensions. Wellness is not just about being physically healthy and free of sickness or disease; it also means nurturing all the dimensions of wellness, including social, emotional, cultural, intellectual, spiritual, financial, physical, and environmental. Food justice relates to wellness in a number of these dimensions.


Food justice and environmental wellness

Food justice is related to the environment in many ways. Access to food options may be limited due to the location of people’s homes or means of transportation. There may be an absence of fresh food or there could be a limited choice of affordable food items. People’s social environments may stigmatize people who are hungry, which is another aspect of food justice. 


Food justice and financial wellness

Food injustice perpetuates the unequal class structure in the United States. Without educating ourselves, we could unintentionally support stigmas and misconceptions around poverty and hunger. One common misconception is that only the poorest of poor people are hungry, but we want everyone to know that hunger can exist outside of poverty.


Food justice and social wellness

By reducing the stigma associated with poverty and hunger, we can create a safer space for people to access free or low cost food without harassment, judgment, or condescension. We can do this by normalizing the usage of places like food pantries or food justice community gardens.

We should avoid falling into the trap of “I’m helping you. I’m serving you. (I’m better than you),” also known as the “savior complex.” We can avoid this by transforming traditional “community service” or “volunteering” opportunities into those that create a social culture where ALL people work together to support each other.

By working together we can strengthen interpersonal relationships. This is the groundwork for community empowerment.

What does food justice have to do with UNC?

Student Wellness and other campus and community partners are very proud to support a wonderful student initiative! Starting October 3, 2014, we will welcome UNC’s very first on-campus food pantry: The Carolina Cupboard. This pantry will be located in the Avery Residence Hall Basement, Room #BC and will be open to UNC students. Stay tuned for more information on how you can qualify!

By bringing a pantry to campus we are increasing access to food and promoting food justice. We hope you will work with us, the Residence Hall Association, the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life and Community Involvement, and other advisory board representatives to join this group of motivated and passionate undergraduate students to reduce stigma!

 What does it have to do with us (students)?

This is a unique opportunity at Carolina for all of us to educate ourselves about the issues affecting our Tar Heel community. It’s up to ALL of us to make sure we all feel safe, supported, and included on this campus. Soon, the campus will be flooded with donation bins in various locations. Once the donation bins are up and running, we encourage you to fill them up!

Here’s what you can do NOW: ‘Like’ the Tar Heel Wellness Challenge Facebook page. For the next 14 days, we have a social media challenge about “Environmental Wellness,” one of the dimensions we talked about above. Comment on this blog post below or write a post on the Facebook page with #THWC. You can write about food justice, environmental wellness, or another relevant topic that is important to you. By participating in an activity (such as a writing exercise) related to environmental wellness, you get entered into a raffle to win $20.00 to the UNC Student Stores!

Stay tuned for more information, including the Carolina Cupboard’s new website! In the meantime, participate in the #THWC challenge and mark your calendars from September 29 through October 3 for a UNC Food Pantry kick-off week!





“What’s Near Me?” : Find Campus Resources near YOU and win prizes!

Welcome (back) to Carolina! It’s a brand new year with new classes, new opportunities, and possibly new friends. Maybe you’re ready to hit the ground running or maybe you’re a bit anxious about all of these changes. Either way, Student Wellness is here to help you find your way. Specifically, we want to make sure that you know what resources are available and nearest to you for two reasons:

  1. If you know where helpful resources are NOW, then in times of need, you’ll know exactly where to go (or where to direct your friends)!
  2. We want you to become familiar with what resources this fantastic campus has to offer. I can tell you from personal experience that I WISH I knew these places existed, and I found out about them…4 years too late!

image from 5kmissionpossible.com

It’s time to WIN PRIZES! Here’s how to play:

  • Below you’ll find some of my favorite Carolina hotspots, split up by location.
  • Visit at least 1 spot in each location category (South Campus, Bell Tower, Old Well)
  • Take a selfie in front of the building or sign or whatever is accessible for you.
  • Post that photo to Instagram or to the Tar Heel Wellness Challenge Facebook Page with #THWC for a chance to win a $20.00 gift card for UNC Student Stores!
  • Come visit us at Student Wellness Services on the 2nd floor of the Campus Health (James A. Taylor) building, show us your pics, and EVERY PERSON will leave with a prize – whether it’s a pair of rockin’ sunglasses, a sweet notebook, or a surprise!

Jani’s Favorite Campus Hotspots
Visit each center’s website for some great online resources!

image from housing.unc.edu

Near the South Campus Dorms…

The Learning Center
SASB North
This center has a great supportive environment. They connect you with peer tutors, academic coaches, study groups, and learning disability and accessibility resources. They can also help you out with test prep!

The Writing Center
SASB North
Folks at this center edit and proofread papers and even help develop your unorganized thoughts into a full essay. They send a notice to your professor to let them know you’re taking advantage of their resource, you really care about the work, and you take it seriously. In my experience, this really helped boost my grades.

 LGBTQ Center
SASB North
This is a wonderful place to meet great people. The center also has a resource library and a cozy, safer space to relax in. You do not have to identify as gay, queer, bisexual, etc. to enjoy this space!

 Accessibility Resources and Services
SASB North
This center hooks you up with alternative testing conditions, provides assistive listening devices, provides means of alternative format course textbooks, and more. As someone who gets panic attacks and an increase in my anxiety in high-stress situations, I wish I took advantage of these services as an undergrad. You can BET I’m going to as a graduate student!

 Rams Head Rec Center
Near Morrison and Rams Head Dining Center
This gym has group classes throughout the day, exercise equipment, and a climbing wall.


Tip: To get from South Campus (first-year dorms) to Mid Campus (classes) the fastest – walk to Morrison, find the path that starts behind the dumpsters and goes through a wooded area. The path exits at the Campus Health Building (James A. Taylor Building)!


image from unc.edu

Near the Bell Tower…

 Women’s Center
Stone Center
This is a great place to chat and connect with people who are passionate about gender equity work. There are also tons of interesting classes, lectures, and performances hosted here throughout the semester.

 Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
3rd floor of Campus Health Building (James A. Taylor Building)
CAPS offers a range of mental health services from 1-on-1 counseling to group therapy.

 Campus Health Services
1st floor of Campus Health Building (James A. Taylor Building)
Feeling under the weather? See a doctor at CHS for free. You can also visit CHS for anything from a pelvic exam to immunizations.

 Healthy Heels Shoppe
Basement of Campus Health Building (James A. Taylor Building)
Get everything you need from prescription refills to popular over-the-counter meds and nutrition bars.

 Student Wellness Services
2nd floor of Campus Health Building (James A. Taylor Building)
This is the greatest spot on campus ;) But for real – we offer a supportive, safer, and non-judgmental environment for conversations around health and well-being. We connect you to peer education groups, campus student groups and resources, or trained staff that can discuss an array of topics from HIV testing to microaggressions to decision-making to active bystander skills.

 Student Rec Center
Near Student Stores, the Football Stadium, on Stadium Drive
This is another gym on campus that has fun group classes and equipment. It’s very easy to stop by between classes.

 The Study Abroad Office
FedEx Global Education Center, up McCauley Street
The building itself is awesome with a lovely café and cozy study spots throughout. Advisors connect you to programs around the world depending on your interests, major, and goals. They’ll also work with you on how to transfer classes back to UNC for course credit. For example, I learned how to pick classes strategically at Dublin City University in Dublin, Ireland to count towards my Environmental Sciences and Engineering BSPH degree. I ended up not having to take some required courses at UNC and was able to take some fun electives my senior year.


image from unc.edu

Near the Old Well…

 Academic Advising
Steele Building, Near South Building and Saunders Hall
Do you have a hold on class registration because you haven’t seen your academic advisor? I suggest you visit advising on a regular basis, not just before registering for classes!

 Career Services
Hanes Hall (NOT HANES ART CENTER!), across from Saunders, near Carroll Hall (School of Journalism and Mass Communication)
Don’t wait until senior year. This is a great place to come chat about your passions and they’ll help connect you with jobs and internships throughout your time at UNC to figure out what you like and don’t like.

 The Office of Scholarship and Student Aid
Pettigrew Hall, North Campus across from the Franklin Street Post Office
Whether you’re an undergraduate or professional student, you can visit walk-in hours to ask advisors financial questions or to get info about financial aid and scholarship options.

SO, start clicking away, snap some pics, and get hashtaggin’! I hope to see you all in our office soon J



You Forget It All the Time, and It’s Probably Stressing You Out…

Okay sure, if you’re reading this, you’re most likely breathing already, I’ll give you that, but what is the quality of your breath?

Breath is at the root of everything our bodies do. And even though I know this–and I even teach this–I regularly forget to really breathe. Multiple times a day, I’ll check in to find myself holding my breath or breathing only into and out of the top part of my chest.

Breath and Behavior

When I work with actors (as a part of Interactive Theatre Carolina) or when I teach yoga, I start exercises with or even center entire lessons around the breath. New actors will often glance around wondering if I’m for real. I can see the wheels turning in their heads: “What does this have to do with being onstage and laughing and yelling and crying and looking believable?” Well…

What happens when you get onstage? People look at you. It’s stressful. You get nervous. What happens when you get nervous? Your breath gets shallow and fast. What happens when your breath gets shallow and fast? Your voice gets softer, your movements are compromised, and your attention is less available to the people trying to interact with you.

Even if you have absolutely no theatrical aspirations, our breath is linked to stress, and being aware of our breath can help us manage stress.

Breath and Health

It’s not news that our muscles, organs, brains, and other innards function best when they’re provided oxygen and rid of carbon dioxide. Think of the unhealthy chain reactions that can happen when we regularly shortchange our physical selves of the breath we need.

The sympathetic nervous system (the system responsible for the “fight or flight” response), while evolutionarily useful for getting us through dangerous moments (like…if you find yourself needing to outrun a lion), still gets triggered when we’re stressed (like…when your printer jams 5 minutes before you’re supposed to turn in that thing that’s now crumpled in the paper tray), and when engaged too often, this reaction takes an understandable toll on our bodies.


If we’re not breathing to the best of our abilities even in times when we are NOT stressed, it still makes our bodies feel like we ARE stressed.

Life is stressful enough, y’all. Why would we do that to ourselves?

I can’t answer for you, but I can speak for my own bad breathing habits. I’ve started to watch and I notice I hold my breath when feeling guilty, when pretending to listen to someone but thinking about something else, when trying to walk quickly because I’m late, when avoiding something, when not being present—just to name a few. See if you can notice your own sticky moments. It can be revelatory. And shifting the experience of those moments is as simple as inhaling deep into your stomach and letting the breath slowly out.


As a young woman, I was taught–like many others–to suck in my stomach to keep myself attractive. I’d be lying if I told you that I’ve totally gotten over that, even though I know it doesn’t feel good, it robs me of breath, and it’s a messed up idea. Why should I stress my body out daily in an attempt to satisfy some unhealthy thin ideal I don’t even agree with? But letting go of these habits and these old ideas takes practice.

Ever gotten the advice to change the way you react to things you cannot change? Depending on the situation…that can be really annoying advice. And I’m not seriously going to tell you that deep breathing will solve all of the things that stress you out or even dismantle the social structures that perpetuate a thin ideal.

But breathing deeply is good for you. And it’s a little thing you can definitely do. And it will help to keep you healthy so that you CAN do the important stuff…like dismantle the social structures that perpetuate a thin ideal :)


But you don’t have to just take my word for it…





WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Top Summer Sports to Get Active & Feel Your Best

It’s no secret that exercise is key to a healthy lifestyle. But it’s time to look beyond the four corners of the gym – to the outdoor terrain. From courts and rinks, to paths and trails, it’s likely that numerous opportunities for fun activities are nestled within your local community. Allow your worries to fade away, and let the adventure begin. Read on for few of our favorite summer sports – and what you’ll need to get started!


Sport: Tennis
What You’ll Need: tennis shoes, tennis racket, tennis balls
Exercise Benefits: fully body- cardiovascular and muscular

Bring your game back to campus fall 2014


Sport: Mountain Biking
What You’ll Need: mountain bike, helmet,
Exercise Benefits: primarily quadriceps, hamstrings, calves

Bring your game back to campus fall 2014


Sport: Cross Country
What You’ll Need: a quality pair of running shoes
Exercise Benefits: cardiovascular, aids bone density

Bring your game back to campus fall 2014


Sport: Badminton
What You’ll Need: badminton racket, shuttles, badminton net
Exercise Benefits: fully body- cardiovascular and muscular

Bring your game back to campus fall 2014


Farmers’ Market Notes from Sarah D

Okay, it’s always a great time of year to go to the Farmers’ Market…but, y’all.  THIS is a GREAT time of year to go to the Farmers’ Market.

I’ll admit; I’m actually only an occasional market goer. Let’s be real.  Even the best of us can fall into food ruts–especially if funds are tight.   And Farmers’ Markets can seem fleeting and ephemeral–especially if you’re not an early riser on Saturday mornings or have problems remembering what day it is…ahem, not that I’d know anything about that.

Getting to a Farmers’ Market can be a great way to reconnect with the food you put into your body, though.  The food is fresh, in season, and grown by people who care.  Going to the market inspires me to eat new, healthy things that I may not have thought of before.  And sometimes I find GREAT deal$$$.



Basil.  Basil is in season right now, and a bunch will cost $1 – $2.50.

Take it home, trim the ends of the stems, and put the bunch in a jar of water.  No need to refrigerate!  It should last a while on your counter this way.

Add leaves to your sandwiches, smoothies, teas, salads, or noodle dishes and feel like a winner.  Or!  Make a simple basil pesto…


(You’ll need fresh basil, fresh garlic, a blender or a sharp knife, olive oil, some parmesan-esque cheese, optional walnuts, and a sense of adventure because I don’t measure this precisely)

Pinch the basil leaves from their stems – I aim for about a packed cup, but you can do with more or less.

Smash 3 cloves of garlic with the flat side of a knife for easy peeling.

Either chop up the basil and garlic really fine, or throw it into a blender with a little olive oil.  (Tip: add some spinach or kale if you want extra nutrients) Add some chopped walnuts if you’re into that.  Add about 1/3 cup of grated cheese and stir it all up while drizzling with olive oil.  Add more of any ingredient according to your taste.  You really can’t screw up too bad.  It can be chunky or saucy.  It will taste good.

Toss this mix onto some noodles or grill some chicken in it or spread it on a sandwich.  Feed it to a friend and impress them.

CONVINCED YET?  Here are MARKET DETAILS for you LOCALS  (this post assumes that you live on or close to UNC’s campus.)

The Carrboro Farmer’s Market (http://www.carrborofarmersmarket.com/)

  • Saturday 7:00am – 12:00pm  (All year)
  • Wednesday  3:00pm – 6:00pm (During the growing season, April – October)

Located at 301 W Main Street, Carrboro

Don’t have a car?  On Saturdays, take the CM or CW bus from South Columbia Street and Rosemary to Carrboro Town Hall, then keep walking down W. Main Street until you’re at the Carrboro Town Commons.  Check google maps’ public transit or http://www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=706 for route updates.

The Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market (http://www.thechapelhillfarmersmarket.com/)

  • Saturday 8:00am – 12:00pm
  • Tuesday 3:00pm – 6:00pm

Located at 201 SOUTH Estes Drive, Chapel Hill (Right in front of University Mall)

Don’t have a car?  On Saturdays, you can take the FG bus from Carolina Coffee Shop on Franklin to University Mall.  Check google maps’ public transit or http://www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=706 for route updates.


  • Bring a bag (many vendors have them, but some may not)
  • Bring cash (though many vendors accept cards, it’s just easier)
  • If you’re gong to Carrboro on a Saturday, don’t bother eating breakfast.  At the Carrboro Farmer’s Market, you can buy delicious pastries and coffee
  • Don’t be afraid to chat!  I’ve had great luck asking farmers and fellow shoppers how they prepare the various food items on sale.

Smiles or Tears? How to Beat Summertime Sadness With Optimism


Welcome to a new week! I hope you jumped out of bed with a purpose in mind, ready to live exactly how you want. If not, that’s ok too – maybe it’s more sleep you need! I hope that the summer has given you time to focus on your overall wellness. Maybe you’ve been working hard to eat more healthfully, be more active, or quit smoking.  Along the way, you may have hit some unavoidable roadblocks stopping you from reaching your goal. When bad things happen – do you recognize them as a passing storm cloud, or do you believe that the universe is wholly aligned against you? The answer matters – a lot! We’re going to begin this morning with a look into optimism, and why it’s an essential aspect of a well-balanced life.

First, let’s take a closer look at what it means to have an optimistic world view. Let’s be clear- there are several things that optimism is not. Optimism is not happiness, as happiness is an indefinable and subjective emotion. Optimism is not forcing a smile, mentally chanting “cheer up buttercup,” or prancing through a field of daisies. These behaviors could be a natural byproduct of experiencing optimism in your life, but they likely will not bring you a sense of inner peace in of themselves. Optimism is hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something. By extension, optimism allows you to believe that your life is worth living.

Sounds great, huh? Here are a few behaviors you can use in your life to achieve a greater sense of optimism:

  1. Create and purse your own goals: This is the foundation of a meaningful life. People who get things done and laugh along the way don’t have access to some secret elixir – rather, they know what they want from their life and they work hard to make it happen. Do you want to lose weight and feel better about your body? The drive must come from within – not a nagging parent or a concerned counselor. You’re much more likely to cultivate personal inspiration if you are invested in the achievement of your goal. Start small – drinking more water, being active 30 minutes a day, and adding more vegetables to your plate. This is a simple example of a goal that an optimist might create! Optimists are also persistent; they don’t let setbacks define them or their life.
  2. Solve problems proactively: It’s easy to run on autopilot in life and react to challenges with indecision and disengagement. Optimists, however, do things differently. When a storm strikes and a problem arises – take action immediately. Grab a pen and paper and write the problem at the top, followed by a list of possible solutions with pros and cons for each. Then, weight the options and take action. It’s easier to lay in bed and watch House of Cards all day, but taking small steps to fix a problem will actually make you feel a lot better. Take the optimistic route!
  1. Think of the worst possible outcome: That’s right, a healthy dose of realism could actually make you more optimistic. Anticipating failure, THEN making changes to ensure that these outcomes don’t happen will help set you up for success! You may have heard the trite phrase – “stop worrying, everything will be ok.” Instead of forcibly blocking thoughts, brainstorming practical solutions to possible problems will help pessimists achieve a more optimistic mindset.

How optimistic are you? If you’re still unsure after reading through these behaviors, take the optimism quiz to find out once and for all.


Credit Cards – Friend, Enemy, or Frenemy?

Credit Cards – Friend, Enemy, or Frenemy? 


Do me a favor – take a minute and open up your wallet.  If it’s anything like mine, it’ll have various IDs (OneCard, license, etc.), debit card, business cards, maybe some type of rewards card. In any case, your wallet is probably filled with all types of plastic cards.  One of the most prominent pieces of plastic in my wallet, though, is that sleek, transparent credit card. It beckons to me. It yells out “SWIPE ME! GO ONLINE AND BUY STUFF WITH ME!” Occasionally the card wins, but for the majority of the time, I’m able to turn down the volume to a whisper.


The ability, nowadays, to spend on a credit card is easier than it has ever been. Credit is widely available (although, admittedly, not as widely available since the Great Recession) there is no shortage of methods to spend it: swiping a physical card, making online purchases, or using smartphone apps.  It’s no surprise that college graduates, on average, have up to $3,000 in credit card debt.  Though that may pale in comparison to the tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt that many students carry, when you consider that most credit cards have an interest rate that hovers around 14% things can get ugly fast! That’s right, every time the monthly balance is not paid down in full, another 14% is tacked on, exponentially increasing your debt to the credit card company. If numbers are your thing, or you’re just interested in the way that interest rates work, check out this more in-depth, but easy to read article about credit card interest rates.


Why am I sweating this credit card stuff?  The reason is simple: having a stellar credit history and score will be a vital tool once you’re out there in the “real world.”  Virtually every large purchase you make—a car, home, or even if you’re renting a place—will require that you have strong credit. Having a squeaky-clean credit history can actually save you money, because you’ll be in a great position to get the best rate on your loan as possible.


Credit history can also be important when you are job searching.  Although there is almost no evidence linking credit history with job performance, in a study released just last year, nearly half of all employers check a potential job candidate’s credit history as part of a background check, and many have been denied employment based on a poor credit history alone! So not only does your money depend on good credit, your job might too!


You might be saying to yourself, “OK. I get it. Credit is really important and I should have a good credit history, but where do I begin?” Great question!  Here are a few simple things you can do right now:


  1. Here’s an obvious, but important step.  The best way to ensure a rock star credit history is to pay any and all bills on time – all the time! Life happens and there may come a time when you’re not able to pay a bill on time. If this happens, be sure to call your credit card company and notify them.


  1. Check out UNC’s online financial literacy program, CashCourse. It’s free to register and has plenty of useful information about credit cards and other financial topics.


  1. Monitor your credit report! By federal law, you are entitled to a credit report free of charge every year. Check the report for an inaccuracies or errors.


If you’re interested in other ways that you can improve your credit history and score, check out this great resource.


While a strong credit history is just one piece of the puzzle for optimal financial wellness, getting a head start now is a huge step in the right direction.  One that will literally pay off for the rest of your life!
This blog was written by Dennis Carmody. Dennis is an MPH candidate in the Health Behavior department at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. He is currently enjoying his summer practicum with the great folks at UNC Student Wellness.