Healthy People

Healthy people outside
Healthy People, Healthy Planet

At the MIT Office of Sustainability, we seek to activate campus systems that promote health, well-being, and environmental justice, in partnership with students, staff, faculty, and community partners.

 

Supporting equitable and vibrant environments

When designing for healthier environments, MITOS supports systems that provide equitable access to clean air and water, as well as to our jobs, classes, recreation, and amenities like fresh food and groceries. MITOS works to understand and address the structural inequalities in our society that exacerbate negative health impacts for certain communities, including Black, Indigenous, people of color, low-income communities, immigrants, and persons with disabilities.

MITOS is currently exploring in its work:

  • The ways in which our built and natural environments on campus can support healthy lifestyles and community resilience

  • The critical relationship between our campus food system, social justice, and climate change

  • The health-related benefits of low-carbon transportation to, from, and around campus

  • The pursuit of environmental justice on campus and beyond

Read our draft framework and let us know any feedback and suggestions.

Additional MIT Initiatives

MITOS is part of a community of departments, labs, and centers working toward elements of a sustainable campus. Featured below are initiatives from some of our partners.

Students
MindHandHeart

The MindHandHeart Initiative taps into MIT’s passionate community spirit and innovative problem-solving skills to enhance mental health and overall well-being at MIT.

Strawberries
Community Wellness at MIT Medical

Community Wellness at MIT Medical works with the entire MIT community to provide the resources and programs that can help you make healthy choices, from yoga to healthful eating.

Bike Lane
GetFit

GetFit strives to make MIT a healthier community by encouraging participants to exercise regularly via a challenge, which typically runs from early February through April.

Doing well
Doing Well at MIT

DoingWell was developed to empower students to prioritize their wellbeing. Learn more about the pillars: Mind, Body, Relationships, and Purpose.

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Food Systems

fruit market
Building a healthy, just, and sustainable food system

 MITOS works to support a campus where everyone has access to healthy, affordable, and culturally meaningful food in an environment designed for social connection, sustainability, and innovation. Guided by MIT’s climate action plan, Fast Forward, and our 2018 Food & Sustainability Working Group report, we are working to procure sustainable food, build strong community partnerships, support pollinator habitats, lower the impact of our food-related greenhouse gas emissions, and more. Find out about these efforts below.

 

Recent Highlights
Launchpad
MIT News: Progress toward a sustainable campus food system

New partnerships, support for sustainable foods, and community-based incubator. (February 2022)

daily table
MIT News: Students explore food sustainability at Daily Table

First-year students visit nonprofit grocer store and learn about food resources at MIT. (January 2022)

launchpad food
Eater Boston: A New Food Court Featuring BIPOC- and Immigrant-Owned Businesses

The Launchpad: MIT partners with nonprofit food incubator, CommonWealth Kitchen. (September 2021)

banana
Student Blog: Reflecting on Our Food System

As we return to campus, thoughts on the role of food from students and staff. (August 2021)

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bee
Climate Change & Food

Food production and consumption are connected to climate change and carbon emissions at every level. Food is, therefore, listed as a priority commitment for decarbonizing the campus in MIT’s Fast Forward climate action plan, which states that MIT will establish a quantitative food goal in 2022. From tackling single-use disposable items, to providing more healthy, delicious plant-based options, to partnering with local food justice organizations, MITOS and MIT Dining will be in engaging the campus in conversation and working toward quantitative goals.

 

farm
Food Justice

A sustainable food system also addresses the social, racial, economic, and environmental injustices embedded in food and farming. When solving for carbon and waste reductions, a sustainable food system also ensures access to affordable and culturally meaningful food, agricultural land, business opportunities, and safe working environments for all. MITOS is building relationships with organizations like CommonWealth Kitchen and the Daily Table, and works closely with MIT’s food security efforts. Visit DoingWell at MIT to learn about food security and financial resources.

 

Hive
Plants & Pollinators

The Hive Garden on the Saxon Lawn is made up of pollinator-attracting plants - which bring awareness to the crucial role that bees, butterflies, birds, beetles, moths, and others play in sustaining our economies, food security, and environmental health. Stay tuned as MIT embarks on new projects related to growing food and the pollinators that make it possible. If you are on campus, get in touch if you would like to be involved.

 

MIT Food & Sustainability Working Group

The MIT Food & Sustainability Working Group examined the cultural, administrative and environmental dimensions of the MIT food system, resulting in a set of recommendations for operationalizing sustainability across campus life and operations in 2018. Read more here, or click below.


Campus Food Partners

MIT Dining partners with Bon Appétit as its on-campus vendor for residential dining. As a company, Bon Appetit strives to achieve greater social responsibility and sustainability, which led them to launch their Farm to Fork program in 1999, a company-wide commitment to buying locally. MIT Dining also partners with retail vendors across campus including the new Launchpad at W20.

 

The MIT Recycling program manages on-campus food waste collection. This includes food waste from nearly 20 dining facilities. Additionally, some residence halls, particularly graduate dorms, collect food waste for composting. Currently, only food waste or plant material may be collected, due to limitations in regional infrastructure for processing compostable containers and silverware. Take a look at the MIT Materials Matters Dashboard to access campus waste data.
 

The Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) funds MIT research, supports students, and brings global leaders together to solve water and food sector challenges.

 

Student initiatives such as the Food and Agricultural Club , which hosts an annual Innovation Prize , are also seeking to address elements of the food system on campus and globally.

More Resources
Opportunities for action and learning on campus

MIT offers many on-campus resources related to food, wellness, and sustainability. These include the MIT Medical Community Wellness program as well as many classes during IAP and semester terms. Explore more:
 

MIT Medical
Community Wellness

IAP Classes
Energy, Environment, and Sustainability
Food and Beverages
Fitness
Wellness
Life Skills

Semester Classes
1.74 Land, Water, Food, and Climate
11.377 Food Systems and the Environment
24.03 Good Food: The Ethics and Politics of Food
21A.155 Food, Culture, and Politics
21W.012 Writing and Rhetoric: Food for Thought
21G.045 Global Chinese Food
STS.429 Food and Power

Accessing local food at Farmers’ Markets

During the Spring, Summer and Fall the City of Cambridge supports seven farmers markets. Two spring to fall markets accept EBT/SNAP - the Central Square Market and the Harvard University Market. In addition, the Cambridge Winter Farmers Market at the Cambridge Community Center accepts EBT/SNAP.

In Somerville, the Somerville Winter Farmers’ Market (December-April) accepts SNAP/ EBT and HIP (Healthy Incentives Program). The Union Square Farmers’ Market in Somerville (May-November) also SNAP/EBT/Food Stamps, and several vendors also accept WIC and Elder Coupons.

Cambridge and Boston both have many additional farmers markets that are available throughout the week. Find a market near you:

Environmental Justice

children
Environmental Justice

MITOS is working to promote environmental justice and center the values of diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion in all levels of our work, in line with the strategic priorities of the Institute Community and Equity Office (ICEO) and MIT’s Campus Services and Stewardship units.

This work includes developing a deep understanding of the racial injustices that contribute to the unequal distribution of environmental costs, benefits, and conditions in communities. We also seek to advance an inclusive process, recognizing that the sustainability field has often marginalized groups who are the closest to pollution, most impacted by climate change, and who have the knowledge to contribute the most innovative solutions.

As MIT’s Fast Forward Climate Plan recognizes, “the world will not solve the climate problem without solving the intertwined problems of equity and economic transition.”

Living Climate Futures, Spring 2022

The Living Climate Futures initiative brought front-line climate and environmental justice partners from across the country into the classroom and onto campus, culminating in a symposium this past April. Led by History, Anthropology & STS at MIT in collaboration with MITOS and others.

Visit the website below and read a blog reflection here.

Learning, Collaborating, Doing - A New Vision

Through learning and collaboration, we are working with partners across the Institute, the Boston area, and beyond to develop actionable strategies that eliminate inequities and advance a healthy, just MIT community.

What might this look like? As we get to work, we envision an environmentally just community that ensures our local air is clean for all residents by maximizing renewable energy, material reuse, and green space and minimizing fossil fuels, waste incineration, and traffic congestion. We imagine a food system that supports local growers and small businesses, and is nutritious and accessible for all. And much more. We are exploring solutions that reduce the campus's impact on the environment, while nurturing and uplifting people.

Read our draft framework here. We welcome comments and suggestions.

Featured MIT Resources & Research
Land acknowledgement
MIT Land Acknowledgement Statement

The MIT Indigenous Peoples Advocacy Committee (IPAC) in part with MIT's American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), Native American Student Association (NASA) and other Indigenous MIT students/alumni developed this land acknowledgement statement.

Heather Paxson
Behind the Climate Action Plan: Heather Paxson, Professor and Head of Anthropology

Professor Paxson discusses how the "small but mighty" Anthropology department contributes to climate justice education and more.

ESI research
ESI white paper explores just transition to a low-carbon economy

Recent ESI white paper explores issues related to just transition to a low-carbon economy,  “Changes in the contribution of coal to tax revenues in Greene County, PA, 2010-2019.”

 

 

Patricia Saulis
Video: Patricia Saulis, “Creating Space for Balance"

Patricia Saulis is Executive Director of the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council and an MIT Visiting Scholar in 2020-2021 in Comparative Media Studies. This is her talk: “Creating Space for Balance: Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science — Two-Eyed Seeing — in Environmental Justice and Media”

Mimi Wahid '21
MIT News: A storyteller dedicated to environmental justice

Exploring her identity through writing has clarified senior Mimi Wahid’s desire to serve rural Southern communities like her hometown.

 

Annauk Denise Olin
MIT News: Saving Iñupiaq

Linguistics graduate student Annauk Olin is helping her Alaska Native community preserve their language and navigate the severe impact of climate change.

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Recent MITOS Workshops

ICEO Community Dialogues: Exploring Climate & Environmental Justice (Thursday, March 4, 2021)

An opportunity to reflect on your role in promoting climate and environmental justice at MIT with Susy Jones, MITOS; Asia Hypsher ’21; and Patricia Saulis, MLK Visiting Scholar, Executive Director, Maliseet Nation Conservation Council, Canada

Slides, Recap, and Follow Up Resources

Sustainability Connect: Exploring the Social Justice and Sustainability Nexus in Colombia, the U.S., and Campus (October 15, 2020)

With Susy Jones, MITOS; Janelle Knox Hayes, Associate Professor Associate Professor of Economic Geography and Planning; Luis Gilberto Murillo-Urrutia, Research fellow at ESI & Former Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Colombia; and Marcela Angel, Research Associate at ESI

Slides & Recap

ICEO Day of Dialogue: Climate, Sustainability, & Justice at MIT (August 5, 2020)

This session opens up a dialogue to discuss the connection between environmental racism and justice and our work advancing a sustainable campus. With Susy Jones, MITOS; Justin Steil, Associate Professor of Law and Urban Planning; and Mimi Wahid ‘21

Slides & Recap

MIT Environmental Justice Partners

The Institute Community and Equity Office (ICEO) is a resource for community, equity, inclusion, and diversity policies and resources, and an organizer of related activities and conversations.

ESI pursues multidisciplinary research, education, events, and partnerships to help move society toward an environmentally and socially sustainable future - including many issues related to environmental justice.

The Department of Urban Studies & Planning (DUSP) hosts classes, research and events across topics of equity and justice- related to transportation, housing, climate resiliency, civic design and more.

The PKG Center is the epicenter of public service at MIT, and hosts many opportunities and resources for students to engage in meaningful work and conversations around equity and justice in communities.