Sustainable Community Food Systems

Sustainable Community Food Systems (SCFS) is a minor in Environmental Studies, an interdisciplinary  program within the College of Liberal Arts & Science. SCFS, is an innovative, immersive academic program with an emphasis on the intersections of food sustainability, environmentalism, and social justice.




  • Sustainable Community Food Systems offers you a unique opportunity to connect theory and practice through classroom-based work with service learning and hands-on experiences in the local community. Focusing specifically on the issues of food sustainability, environmentalism, and social justice, you will gain vital skills that will enable you to become a leader in society’s slow and contentious, but ongoing, shift to a more equitable, just and sustainable future.
  • At the heart of the Sustainable Community Food Systems minor is an intensive internship (16-20 hours per week) with a single community partner that is part of the food system. Over the course of the summer and fall, you will gain practical experience through over 450 hours of paid and credit-bearing internship.This experience is then critically analyzed through an intersectional lens on the complexities of the entire food system that will become a part of your written portfolio. This portfolio, plus your internship hours, will reflect the summation of your work.  



  • Sustainable Community Food Systems minor will give you skills to help solve humanity’s most pressing problems. This minor will allow you to learn how to be system thinkers looking at the big picture solutions of how transforming the food system is a platform for creating an equitable, humane and sustainable society. You will discover how your actions can enable you to advocate for a more resilient and just food future. For example, you may choose to advocate for food security in  just and culturally appropriate ways and/or learn how to innovate as a social entrepreneur towards a more sustainable food system.


      Course of study 

      "18 credits total”

      • 200 hours internship paid in the summer plus 6 credits fall internship*42 hours/credit = 452 hours)
            • Course on social factors shaping the industrial food system + social analysis of viable alternatives. Sustainable Community Food Systems students will do the 4th credit as a Service-Learning project that will prepare them for their Summer Internships .
        • 1 credit (paid for by students for summer) + $2000 in summer scholarship funds for doing INTERNSHIP AT LOCAL FARMS/ FOOD JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS
          • Internship /// 10 weeks in summer, working 20 hr/week + 10 hrs volunteer time at farm → 30 hrs total per week (6 hrs/day)
          • = 200 internship work hours for 1 credit in the summer + $2,000 scholarship funds
            • Plus 100 SVSF hours
          • No application process for internship → they have a choice of community partner sites
          • summer immersive + collaborative internship where students live at Spring Valley Student Farm (SVSF)
          • Location options for 20 hours/week internship in greater community include: CLiCK, GROW Windham, Spring Valley Student Farm (SVSF), Willimantic Food Co-op, WCFN, and more
        • FALL COURSES 
          • 3-Credit Geography 4095: Special Topics “Sustainable Community Food Systems”. Students will learn about sustainable community food systems, non-profit networks, and social entrepreneurship in this hands-on, service learning class.
          • 3-Credit Geography 4000W: Seminar in Geography. This capstone writing class will focus on the thesis that comes out of the student internships. This class can be used to fulfill the Honors Thesis requirements!
          • 6-credits of fall internship The internship is a continuation of the paid, summer internship. Each Sustainable Community Food Systems participant will finish the program with more than 400 hours of work experience with your internship partners

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      “Just as no student should leave here, degree in hand, without knowing something about literature and international relations and the natural world, no student should leave without a deep sense of responsibility for the protection of the planet. It is part of being a good citizen.”

      — President Susan Herbst, 2012

       Sustainable Community Food Systems offers students who are motivated  to get out of the ‘classroom box’ an innovative opportunity to learn creative critical thinking skills, as well as hands-on engagement with our local food system. Such an opportunity will give students a leg-up in terms of working in the emerging and ever-growing food and sustainability movements

      – Phoebe Godfrey

      “Few issues illustrate the merging of sustainability, practical human needs, local action, and equity in the way food does. in this program, you will learn all aspects of sustainability, social, economic, and environment, through hands-on experience and self-directed study. From food production to social aciton to sustainable technology, you will make a difference in the local community and develop social entrepreneurship skills that you can carry to any endeavor in your future career."

      -Andy Jolly-Ballantine


      “For me, learning is the process of incorporating something new into my self– into my mind, my heart, and the way I see the world around me. It demands that I am intimately involved with what I’m learning. “Experiential learning” is another word for the same thing, and Sustainable Community Food Systems will give me that opportunity. As a current Spring Valley farmer, I can say that almost all of my true learning happens here at the farm already.” -Jessica L.W.

      “Sustainable Community Food Systems was an experience that I pursued because I was curious about life on the farm and about the local food systems that UConn was involved in. By digging in, and getting involved, I developed not only new skills, but also connections to my fellow student farmers that offered new perspectives on local food systems and sustainability. We all learned from each other, not just from a lecture, and the process was fun! If you’re interested in collaborative and hands on learning then Sustainable Community Food Systems is definitely the place for you.” ~Alana D.

      Sustainable Food Systems

      Sustainable Food Systems

      Career Opportunities 


      A major/minor in Environmental Studies, including the Sustainable Community Food Systems minor, can lead to a career in a variety of fields, including public policy, environmental education, eco-tourism, marketing or consulting, journalism, or advocacy. The interdisciplinary skills one will obtain, help tailor your experience to the career path you wish to follow.

      Farming Programs

      • Farm & Food Jobs ; Job postings that connect people, farms and food.
      • NOFA MASS ; Farming jobs in Massachusetts
      • WWOOF ; a worldwide movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange, thereby helping to build a sustainable, global community.
      • Young Farmers Coalition ; Envision a country where young people who are willing to work, get trained and take a little risk, can support themselves and their families in farming.

      Federal Services

      • AmeriCorps VISTA ; Volunteers in Service to America build stronger communities and help eradicate poverty through their programs
        • ResiliencyCorps ; (A sub of AmeriCorps) Increase the resiliency of communities for individuals and for the community as a whole
      • FoodCorps ; Connects to kids to healthy school in food through service learning, so they can lead healthier lives.
      • PeaceCorps ; Provides service opportunities to immerse oneself in a community abroad, working side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our generation.


      • Civil Eats – A daily news source for critical thought about the American food system.
      • Detroiters for Environmental Justice – Mission is local and national collaboration to advance environmental justice and sustainable redevelopment. They’re also a part of the Detroit Youth Climate Summit and have several local campaigns.
      • Environmental Law & Policy Center ; Public advocacy & environmental progress
      • Food & Water Watch ; Working closely with grassroots allies and national partners, we work to protect our food and water by standing up to corporations that put profits over people.
      • GrowWindham ; Community garden program whose focus is on growing youth, growing food, growing community. Provides internships, volunteering & jobs
      • Jobs with Justice ; Unions rights organization
      • REAL School Gardens ; Programs empower teachers, in low income communities, to lead engaging experiential lessons outdoors. REAL-world hands-on lessons accelerate learning and help students build a strong foundation for long-term academic success.
      • The Nature Conservancy ; Impact conservation in 72 countries and in all 50 states, with priorities in challenges facing lands, waters, oceans, cities and climate.

      Job Posting Sites & Other Resources

      Tailor these sites to your needs using keywords like sustainability, environmental policy, environmental journalism, food systems, farms, community gardens, or scroll down their compiled list of job opportunities and guides on careers

      Want to learn more?

      • Civil Eats – A daily news source for critical thought about the American food system.
      • Grace Links ; Highlights the connections among food, water and energy, promoting a sustainable future. Educational articles.
      • Mother Jones ; A daily news source
      • Join a local food-coop!
      • Support local food system and sustainability endeavors!
        • CLiCK Willimantic ; Mission is to grow the vitality of our economy and community by offering shared use commercial kitchens to farmers and culinary entrepreneurs seeking to create food-based businesses; and to improve the health of our local community by teaching gardening, culinary arts, nutrition, and other food-related classes.
        • GrowWindham ; Community garden program whose focus is on growing youth, growing food, and growing community. Provides internships, volunteering & jobs