"Alternative" Spring Breaks

Four groups of Sarah Lawrence College students are volunteering their spring breaks to gain first-hand experience addressing various social issues of concern to them while providing a community service.

A two-week “Seed to Plate: Food Systems” trip takes students to Cornell University's New York State Agriculture Experiment Station, various farms, and food distribution sites ranging from restaurants to supermarkets to a McDonald's.

“This is extra-curricular learning at its finest. Any experience powerful enough to turn a real gung-ho linear-thinking science kid into a holistic-minded gardener ought to be made available to as many people as humanly possible,” said junior Ben Kessler, a former participant and co-leader of this year’s trip.

Students going to the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, the poorest district in the state of Pennsylvania to support the work of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU), will participate in various direct actions including occupying abandoned buildings to show a need for low-income housing for the homeless, or doing nightly food drops outside apartment doors.

“I hope everyone on the trip either develops or refines a nuanced and structural analysis of why poverty is such a persistent social problem,” said organizer, senior Jordan Presnick. “I think we will gain some real-world context for the things we study and are concerned about, which is hard to do in a library.”

Members of the Sarah Lawrence Christian Union and Hillel are spending their break in New Orleans to help with the relief effort through volunteer projects. The trips are organized by Campus Crusade for Christ and Hillels of Westchester.