Starting next month, co-director of the Yale Sustainable Food Project Melina Shannon-Dipietro will officially doff her prefix and assume her full title of Sustainable food Queen of Yale. Over the past four years her hand has not been as visible as that of her six foot + colleague Josh Viertel, yet the evidence of her light but forceful touch can be seen in the fair-trade coffee in Bass library, the swelling list of classes on food in the blue book, and in the godly grass-fed beef burgers in the dining halls.
On a personal note, she turned me, a man who sees no reason to own more than two pairs of pants, into a professional flower arranger.
After graduating from a small, second-rate university in Cambridge Massachusetts, Melina took a turn at consulting, including a project to get a garden into every public school in Boston, but she’s also spent her time in the dirt of places like Sicily and Maine. Her name – Melina -means apple in Italian. She joined the project in 2003.
The YSFP has seen a lot of growth in the past year, and Melina sees no need to buck that trend. Staff is expanding, we’ve moved offices, and we’re experimenting with large numbers of new workshops and programs. Look for a pilot program for New Haven Public schools at the Yale Farm – part of a national movement to refocus the slow food movement around universal rights.
In other places, Melina is looking to keep pushing that statistic of sustainable food in the dining hall higher, as well as bringing ideas from alumni who knew the YSFP in it’s infancy and have been working in food and agriculture for years.
Also, she’d wouldn’t mind a change from the current plan to make the new colleges with Georgian architecture – barns, by any chance?