A network of microphilanthropy that supports Middlebury students.

Twelve Middlebury students will be traveling to New Orleans over February break as part of a Middlebury Alternative Break (MAlt) trip. MAlt is a student organization that provides student-designed and student-led service trips for Middlebury College students. MAlt offers opportunities for students to participate in strong direct service that seeks to address needs as determined by a local community partner. MAlt is committed to a needs-blind acceptance policy. As a result, we do extensive fundraising to ensure that participants’ financial needs can be met. We all work together to support one another, which is why this fundraiser is so critical to our efforts.

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Dollars Raised: 209%

Funding Details

Deadline: Jan 31, 2014
Total needed: $1,000


MAlt - New Orleans Team 
Emily Bensen ’14 Sociology/Anthropology Norwich,VT
Ellery Berk ’14 Economics Newton, MA
Olivia Artaiz ’16
Betty Kobia ’16
Kyler Blodgett ’17
Kathryn Butcher ’15
Lian Folger ’14.5
Allison Forrest  ’15
Olivia French ’14
Laura Harris ’17
Cassandra Kent ’17
Brittany Thomas ’14



MiddSTART MAlt New Orleans Blair Grocery   MAlt - New Orleand Mural

 MAlt Grow the Growers: New Orleans

Our food justice and community empowerment MAlt trip will partner with Our School at Blair Grocery to broaden our perspectives on the importance of food in sustainable urban development. Our School at Blair Grocery is a sustainability education center, a safe space for at-risk youth, and an economic engine for the community. It functions as a source of health food in the midst of an urban food desert and hinges upon the idea of “growing the growers to grow the food”—cultivating and empowering local youth to become actors in their community and its food system. OSBG employs members of the community, enrolls high school students from local schools in an after school experiential learning program, and educates over 700 service-learners from around the country annually.

From November through January, we will explore food justice issues our local community as well as New Orleans face. In addition to reading articles and screening films, we will participate in hands-on learning by partnering with the Middlebury Organic Farm, HOPE, The Vermont Food Bank, and other organizations combating food insecurity in Addison County. Our goal is to two-fold: to learn about the history and current situation in New Orleans so that we can arrive open and willing to learn and help in solidarity, as well as to prepare to take what we learn about food systems in the Lower Ninth Ward and bring it back to Middlebury to apply to sustainable agriculture and local food initiatives in the area.

On February 1st, we will take a plane from Burlington to New Orleans. We will be staying at Camp Hope, a volunteer housing non-profit located just down the street from OSBG. We will spend Monday through Friday taking part in OSBG’s service learning curriculum that focuses on getting out of the classroom to experience first-hand real world issues—and real world solutions. Our days will include a combination of urban farming and social justice workshops. We will learn about the importance of composting, how to plant and harvest micro greens, as well as the sales and marketing aspects of farm operations. We will engage in workshops with the farm staff and local community members over issues such as the difference between solidarity and charity, and if we can really “do justice” by growing food.

Our goal is to come back from New Orleans with an idea of how we can make a difference within the food system in Addison County. Our MAlt trip will produce leaders in sustainable agriculture and local food procurement, and we will encourage our group to dive in and engage with local food justice. This could take many forms, from continuing to volunteer with local organizations with whom we worked before or trip, joining a sustainable food-oriented group on campus, or coming up with a unique food justice project to carry out in the community. It will also include sharing our experiences on campus. We plan on doing this in many forums including presenting at the ES Colloquium, meeting with student sustainability groups, writing an article for the Campus, and perhaps showing a photo-journalism exhibit. Although this trip is about exploring what food justice looks like in the New Orleans, it is just as much about applying what we learn to our local community.

5 Responses to “MAlt New Orleans”

  1. Ashley Calkins says:

    Dear JSF, thank you for your interest in donating to the MAlt New Orleans trip. The group is in New Orleans now! While this MiddSTART page is closed, you can still donate to the trip by going to go.middlebury.edu/give and requesting that your donation go towards the Middlebury Alternative Break Trips New Orleans trip.
    Best, Ashley Calkins, MAlt advisor.

  2. JSF says:

    Is it too late to donate?

  3. Emily Bensen says:

    Exciting news–we have officially met our goal! Congratulations to all of our participants, and a huge thank you to all of our donors! We look forward to keeping you updated as we move closer to our trip!

  4. Ellery Berk says:

    Thanks to those who have donated so far! If you’re interested in learning more about OSBG, here’s a link to their web page: http://schoolatblairgrocery.blogspot.com/p/about-osbg.html

    And here is a link to a cool article about the Lower Ninth Ward that our group has read (among others) in preparation for February!

  5. Emily Bensen says:

    Happy Thanksgiving from the MAlt NOLA team! In light of the upcoming holidays, we are thankful for this opportunity to engage as active citizens and very much appreciate your support in our endeavor.

    Keep checking back for more updates on our pre-trip bonding, volunteer, and educational activities!

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