Lehigh is invested in lending vibrancy and stability to the neighborhood. Successfully transformed neighborhoods boast a rich intellectual and cultural climate and offer a comfortable environment for students, employees and residents alike.
Students and faculty involved in Lehigh’s South Side Initiative are improving access to fresh fruits and vegetables by enabling residents of South Bethlehem and members of the Lehigh community to gain access to convenient, inexpensive plots of land for gardening.
They are also developing educational programming in South Side public schools and other local organizations. For example, they operate an after-school gardening club at Broughal Middle School and run programs on nutrition, health and gardening at the Hispanic Center.
These programs are integrated with classes on urban agriculture at Lehigh. In addition, students in the Integrated Product Development program are working on technology that can improve the practice of growing food in the city. The goals of these efforts go beyond access to food: they hope to ultimately provide employment opportunities and new sources of income for people living and working on the South Side.
South Side Initiative
Every month, the Second Harvest Food Bank helps feed upwards of 60,000 people across the Lehigh Valley—families straddling the line of poverty who must rely on emergency food assistance programs for nourishment.
The food bank distributes nearly half a million pounds of food to more than 200 service agencies in the Lehigh Valley. As demand grows and space reaches capacity, Second Harvest, a division of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, has been forced to decide if it should expand its current distribution center or build a new warehouse off-site.
The dilemma offered an interesting academic proposition for six teams of supply chain management majors in Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics who are working with the food bank to determine the best practical solution. The teams analyzed the distribution center to determine whether Second Harvest should expand or instead move operations. In partnership with Ann McManus, director of the food bank, students have been given the opportunity to tackle real-life problems for a community organization in need.
Lehigh graduate students in the Community Fellows program have found a way to further their academic interests while bringing needed expertise and assistance to community programs throughout the Lehigh Valley. Community Fellows are matched with a partner agency that allows them to integrate social activism into the academic setting.
They are enrolled in classes that directly relate to their work in nonprofit or governmental organizations, exposing them to both academic and experiential learning. More than 47 community partners have participated in the program since it began just over seven years ago.
Recent Fellows have worked with such agencies as Renew Lehigh Valley, the United Way, the Bethlehem Community Collaborative, and the Allentown Redevelopment Authority.