Rising student debt raising new issues at Elon University

Multimedia Reporting by Erin Valentine

According to President Obama’s speech on Wednesday, there is a new challenge the United States is facing – the growing inequality between the rich and the poor.

A Pew Research Center study last year found that America’s mantra of hard work paying off is disbelieved by over one-third of those surveyed.

One of the budding factors of the growing gap between the rich and the poor is the rise of college student debt. Up 10 percent from last year, and up 25 percent from 2008, debt for recent college graduates is rising with each class and putting many recent graduates in unsound financial positions.

Greg Zaiser, vice president of admissions and financial planning at Elon University and an alum, acknowledges the rise in debt for students.

“I think what’s going to happen in the short term is that colleges and universities are going to say, much like Elon has, ‘We’ve got to focus. We’ve got to spend more time thinking how we can do as much as we’re doing without increasing the cost,'” Zaiser said.

Infographic by Erin Valentine

Infographic by Erin Valentine

Students have some options available on campus to begin lowering their debt while still enrolled.

Julie Prouty, office manager of television services at Elon University, has a class requirement for her workers so her recent number of applications has not increased. However, she has found that students who are in charge of their own expenses are often more willing to work. Prouty also stated that without student workers, Elon University’s tuition would be much more expensive.

Jason Puckett, an Elon senior and worker at the Elon Television Office, works the check-in desk with Julie Prouty, office manager, overlooking operations.

Jason Puckett, an Elon senior and worker at the Elon Television Office, works the check-in desk with Julie Prouty, office manager, overlooking operations.
Photo by Erin Valentine

“I would have to have definitely three to four full-time people to make up for the extra hours for the busy times to do the things we do in here,” Prouty said. “Student workers are the backbone of the university. They do a lot of the work. It would be a lot more expensive if a lot of this work had to be done by professional staff with benefits.”

Current students are already seeing their future of debt ahead of them and many are unhappy with the rising numbers.

Katie Maraghy, a junior at Elon University, finds that the debt also comes with a considerable amount of stress.

“To compare tuition and room and board today to that of only a decade ago is mind-blowing,” Maraghy said. “Rising student debt coupled with mismanagement and inefficient systems will have students working longer and harder in order to both pay off these amounts and still have money to survive day- to-day. These increased hours and potentially extended retirement age have innumerable and largely unforeseen consequences on a populations efficiency, psyche and general well-being.”

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Infographic by Erin Valentine

For some, the horror stories of having loans make them skittish from having too many on their plate. Elon junior Isis Malone is also feeling the stress from her impending debt.

“It shouldn’t be this high,” Malone said. “There should be a way for students to be able to go to school and not feel any extra sense of stress when it comes to graduation. They are already worried if they can find a job or not. It makes me nervous to ask for a loan; that I will be forever in debt if I do.”

Another Elon junior, Kyle Koach, sees the future widening gap cause more harm in society.

“I think the raising college prices are hurtful to many Americans,” Koach said. “Going to college isn’t something you can forgo in this century. It is vital if you want to have a career. The fact is students are going to have to put up with four years of inflated prices because they have no other option.”

Koach has a special opportunity where his family’s support will allow him to graduate without too much debt to bear on his own.

“My family has been putting money aside for as long as I can remember to pay for this,” Koach explained. “It’s such a great last gift they can give me before going out into the real world on my own. I am super thankful for that opportunity because I would not be at Elon if that wasn’t the case.”

Some freshmen who have just entered in to college are feeling apprehensive about the expected further rise in debt.

Ashley Bohle, a freshman at Elon, is thinking not just about her future debt, but also how the United States could go about fixing the situation.

“Honestly, we have not had great job opportunities and our government is not doing a lot to help,” Bohle said. “Our youth are going to have to make political changes first. We need to start thinking about hard work and using that mindset to create new jobs to keep the workforce strong. Personally, I am fortunate enough for my parents to support my education. But I know what hard work entails. My friends have on-campus jobs. I have had consistent summer jobs. My parents have showed me hard work by paying their own way through their collegiate experiences.”

Graphic courtesy of University Communications

Graphic courtesy of University Communications

Some recent graduates are already feeling the effects of their student debt and loans.

Becky Wickel, a 2013 graduate from Elon University, has found fault in the communication about the reality of loans and student debt.

“I believe there is a lack of communication in high school about the consequences of debt,” Wickel said. “Students make decisions about college based on so many factors, and cost is not always a top priority. With loans readily available, it’s easy for students to choose to just pay for it later, when they don’t really understand what implications that might have later, when it comes to buying a home or starting a family. Taking out a loan requires very little education for students, it’s easy to sign your financial life away. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to student debt, but unfortunately, it seems like many students don’t consider what they will be paying for in the years to come.”

Wickel acknowledges that as soon as she has to begin paying her loans in January, her lifestyle will have to be altered drastically.

“I’m living it right now,” Wickel explained. “I won’t start making loan payments until January, but based on my current budget, they will likely keep me from living the life I want. I understand I must make sacrifices, but those shouldn’t be the ability to save for my retirement, for example.”

Another 2013 graduate from Elon University, Mariah Czap, has no debt, but calls out the further issues student graduates could run in to.

“I was lucky enough to come out of college with zero student debt, which I’m extremely grateful for,” Czap said. “The ironic thing though is because the economy is still kinda sucky and young people feel the need to extend their education into graduate programs to secure a substantial job, they then put themselves in more debt for the sake of education.”

Current students will have to wait to graduate to see what their final debt will be and recent graduates will have to watch to see the effects of their four years of education on their wallets.

Celebrating Cyber Monday in Elon

Multimedia Reporting by Erin Valentine

As the holiday season descends upon the Unites States, the crowds of shoppers descend on stores with discounts and annual sales. Today is Cyber Monday, the day where consumers can go online and utilize companies’ online deals.

In Elon, local businesses who have seen their numbers rise in the past week are participating in the online shopping holiday.

Michaelle Graybeal, owner of All that JAS, said “Our [numbers] have been going up this whole weekend. We just started off so hopefully they keep going up.”

Graybeal has seen the success of other businesses on Cyber Monday and decided it would be beneficial to participate.

“Everyone else is doing it so we thought we’d do it too,” Graybeal said.

All that JAS is a store in Elon that is known for its custom products, Photo by Erin Valentine

All that JAS is a store in Elon that is known for its custom products,
Photo by Erin Valentine

Another business in the Elon Town Center, Barnes & Noble, is also partaking in the day’s discounts.

Bobbie Wheeler, general merchandise manager at Barnes & Noble in Elon, stated that one of their sales was 25% off any fleece, with the sale being online only.

Randy Moser, an instructor of marketing at Elon University, thinks that Cyber Monday is a positive booster for the economy.

“I think it helps businesses and gives consumers a choice,” said Moser. “I think it’s a great holiday and I think it’s here to stay and I think it helps the economy.”

Infographic by Erin Valentine

Infographic by Erin Valentine

While some Elon students may be participating, others are aware of the sales but are choosing not to participate.

“I have never actually participated in Cyber Monday,” said Elon freshman Riley Billman. “I think it’s a pretty good thing since Black Friday can be kind of dangerous for a bunch of people in the same place all rushing. While as with Cyber Monday, you don’t have that, it’s just you know ordering it on your computer and it’s a lot safer to partake in.”

Writing Center connects peer consultants with Elon University students

By Erin Valentine

From term papers to résumés, job applications, stories, written math assignments and study abroad applications, the Elon University Writing Center is a resource for anything writing-based.

With its main location in Belk Library behind the front desk, it also has satellite locations in the Multicultural Center and 146 Koury Business Center.

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Writing Center Hours

The Writing Center is fueled by peer consultants who are trained in writing across the disciplines at Elon. All consultants are required to complete English 319: Writing Center Workshop and to have required training hours.

Consultants are available to help with understanding the goal of an assignment, brainstorming ideas, drafting, revising, assisting with editing and documenting sources. Appointments can be scheduled online for 15-, 30- or 45-minute sessions (although consultants prefer at least 30-minute sessions). Walk-in appointments are available during operating hours.

However, many students have the misconception that the Writing Center is simply a “correction” or “editing” service.

“We don’t edit papers!”said Elon Junior Sarah Paterson, a consultant and Professional Writing and Rhetoric major. “People come in with 15 page research papers and schedule 15 minute appointments. We’re not just going to scan your paper with a red pen in hand and tell you what to fix – that’s not what the Writing Center is for.”

One of the techniques consultants use is to have people read their work aloud with the consultants.

“Often, when people read their own work aloud, they catch their own errors, realize what’s not working, and feel more confident about their own work once they’ve gone through it themselves,” Paterson explained. “I think it’s valuable for people visiting the Writing Center to find, when they’re stressed out over a big paper for class, that they actually know more than they think they do.”

Danielle Cooper, an Elon junior double majoring in English Professional Writing & Rhetoric and Creative Writing and a consultant at the center, finds the interaction between consultant and student to be the most instrumental aspect of the Writing Center.

“Interaction is key,” Cooper said. “Every consultant wants a client that is receptive and eager to learn, and every client wants a consultant to help.”

Courtesy of University Communications

Courtesy of University Communications

Rachel Lewis, an Elon junior English major and consultant at the center enjoys the openness of the Writing Center staff.

“The best aspect of the WC is the openness,” Lewis said. “People can come to us with any concern and at any stage in the writing process, which I think is especially important because a lot of people think they can only come to us with final papers, when in reality they can come with nothing more than a general idea for a thesis or even just an assignment sheet. We are friendly and on the same level as students, as we are their peers, so I think we seem a little less threatening than a professor.”

Consultants have found that an unexpected addition to their job is learning about a wide range of topics.

“I’ve learned about the genetic background of schizophrenia, about environmental pressures on the Philippines, and about how Europe felt about Woodrow Wilson in WWI – and that’s just this month,” Paterson said.

Dustin Swope, an Elon junior English and Philosophy major who works as a consultant at the center, has found that being a consultant has expanded his own understanding of courses.

“The best thing about the writing center is how it takes learning about a topic or subject outside of the classroom,” Swope said.

No job is without its quirks though, and a college campus job is no stranger to interesting situations.

“We’ve had drunk clients, clients on cell phones, clients that argue with your advice, and even a client that hit on one of the consultants during a session,” Cooper said. “I even had one client that had me sign a non-disclosure agreement before the session. Going into work, you just never know what you’re going to get.”

The Elon University Writing Center can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Elon University students are skeptical on JFK assassination theories

Multimedia Reporting by Erin Valentine

According to a Gallup Poll published on Nov. 15, 61 percent of Americans still believe that Kennedy’s death was part of a conspiracy.

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Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald. Thus, conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy’s death are resurfacing.

When asked which groups may have been involved in the assassination, the top two responses by poll participants were organized crime or the federal government.

Courtesy of the 2013 Gallup Poll

Courtesy of the 2013 Gallup Poll

Although theories may continue to circulate, those who were involved with the Warren Commission, who issued an 888-page report on evidence that Oswald committed the murder, are still standing by their original statements.

On the eve of the 50th anniversary, Elon University students are not phased by conspiracies theories surrounding the assassination.

Kelli Stack, an Elon sophomore, doesn’t see the logic of Oswald having assistance.

“Wasn’t he a loner?” Stack said. “It wouldn’t make sense if someone was with him.”

Kriger explains that conspiracies theories are just ways to avoid the truth, Photo by Erin Valentine

Kriger explains that conspiracies theories are just ways to avoid the truth,
Photo by Erin Valentine

Another Elon sophomore, Jeff Kriger, only sees the conspiracy theories as ways to avoid reality.

“I just think it’s people digging in to things because they don’t want to believe the truth,” Kriger said.

Elon junior Jon Smith explained his lack of belief for the conspiracy by looking at it from the logic of the shot.

“A lot of research alone has been done on training and trained riflemen,” Smith said. “Most well-trained riflemen would say that was an impressive shot. However, it’s not so insane it couldn’t have been done.”

Smith also stated that these theories only pop up when people in the public eye are involved.

“It’s only under a presidential assassination that we would even consider it to be a conspiracy,” Smith explained.

Faces of Homelessness Panel Held at Elon University

Multimedia Reporting by Erin Valentine

Nearly 700,000 Americans are homeless. 1.2 million children in America are without a home.

Michael Stoops, of the National Coalition for the Homeless, gave these facts at the ‘Faces of Homelessness’ panel this evening in Whitley Auditorium at Elon University.

Three panelists spoke on their past narratives of homelessness.

Dae'nah and Ressurrection Graves listen to Harrison speak about his 7 years of being homeless, Photo by Erin Valentine

Dae’jah and Ressurrection Graves listen to Harrison speak about his 7 years of being homeless,
Photo by Erin Valentine

John Harrison, Jr. was the first to speak on his history of being without a home. Harrison came from a supportive family and, after graduating high school, decided he could take care of himself and get a job and begin his life. His lost his first job after his job position was no longer seen as vital.

After Harrison lost his job, his house burned down. However, he stayed positive.

“I can always get another job,” Harrison said.

Harrison got a job delivering packages until his car broke down and he could no longer complete his routes.

“It became crystal clear that I was homeless when that car got towed away,” Harrison said.

Homeless for seven years, Harrison spent most of that time on the streets.

“It seemed that I had turned invisible,” Harrison explained. “It’s easy to get lost out there.”

However, Harrison was able to find kindness in strangers.

“It was this guy walking by and he saw me and kind of stopped and said, ‘Hey, it gets better.’ And he told me about this church where I could go and get warm,” Harrison said. “He helped by not just walking by. He stopped.”

Infographic by Erin Valentine

Infographic by Erin Valentine

Another speaker on the panel was 17-year-old Dea’jah Graves. Graves had come home after school one day when she was 13 and was told by her mother to pack her belongings because they had to “Go and go now.”

She and her mother were able to keep their car, but would sometimes have to stay two to three hours away from her school.

“In my brain, I was responsible for getting us out of homelessness,” Graves said.

She became depressed as her homelessness continued year after year. She began looking for outlets for her energy and frustrations.

Graves joined the drama club at her church and the softball team once she was in 9th grade.

However, she did not share with her classmates or teachers that she stayed in shelters and her mother’s car.

“It was not fun. It was not cool,” Harrison said. “It did teach me a huge lesson.”

Graves’s mother found a stable job and housing before she went into her sophomore year of high school.

Graves, now a senior, is looking to her future and has even applied to Elon University.

Ressurrection Graves speaks about her journey from small business owner to homelessness, Photo by Erin Valentine

Ressurrection Graves speaks about her journey from small business owner to homelessness,
Photo by Erin Valentine

The final speaker, who surprised the audience at the end of the panel’s discussion as Dea’jah’s mother, was Ressurrection Graves.

Ressurrection Graves was a small business entrepreneur who was the proud owner of a massage center. She was a single mother with a house with a two-car garage and two dogs.

“I was in a place where I felt secure and that things were really taking off,” Ressurrection Graves said.

Yet, it would not last. Living client to client and having one too many bad months of business, Graves had to close her doors. She had no one in her family to call to help her with money so her house also went into foreclosure.

“That was the difficult part – that I had to ask people for help,” Ressurrection Graves said.

She realized that her plight may have been influenced by her past. Ressurrection Graves had been sexually abused as a child and was emotionally scarred. She even stated the fact that 97% of homeless mothers have experienced sexual abuse or rape.

“My response was anger. I was very angry,” Ressurection Graves explained.

Ressurrection Graves has since been uncomfortable with people assuming her past once they found out she had been sexually abused.

“If someone is going to be telling my story, it’s going to be me telling my story,” Ressurrection Graves said.

Graves now works to educate people about the true nature and complexity of homelessness.

“Assume nothing. Assume absolutely nothing,” Ressurrection Graves said. “When you go to talk to a homeless person and you assume nothing, you open a door to learn their story.”

Dea’jah and Ressurrection are going to speak to Congress later this week. The panel was held in honor of Campus Kitchen’s National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Beyond organics: The truth and practice of locally grown foods

Multimedia Reporting by Erin Valentine

The locally grown food movement is sprouting across the country, from the organic grapes of California’s vineyards to the sweet potatoes of North Carolina. It has even taken root in Elon and Burlington. However, it may come with a price.

In many small communities, locally grown food is the next step to boost their economy. Farmers need locally grown foods to keep their livelihood. Yet, locally grown food has the stereotype of cleaning out the customer’s wallet.

According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCD&CS), as of 2011, there are over 50,000 farms in North Carolina. The majority of those farms have families whose livelihood depends solely on consumers buying locally grown food.

Going local at Elon University

To encourage the public to commit 10 percent of their existing food dollars to local foods, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) started The 10% Campaign. Since its inception in 2010, The 10% Campaign has helped pledge over 54 million dollars to buying locally grown food.

Elon Dining Services at Elon University is a supporter of The 10% Campaign. According to Kate Nelson, the district marketing manager, in the last academic year, Elon has purchased over 12 percent of all food on campus locally.

“We purchase fresh, quality foods from local, regional and national suppliers who meet our high quality standards,” Nelson explained.

Badge lets students know which foods were made with locally grown foods, Courtesy of Aramark

Badge lets students know which foods were made with locally grown foods, Courtesy of Aramark

University administrators are working with campus food vendor Aramark in on-campus initiatives to promote education on locally grown foods.

Steve Moore, a lecturer in environmental studies at Elon, has been farming since 1974. Moore is involved with the Loy Land Lab at Elon. The land lab gives students firsthand experience with farming, including planting food and optimizing its growth. The lab allows students to appreciate where their food comes from.

“Organic food and local food is a good way to go. It’s a really quick thumb in the wind for the right direction to head,” Moore said.

He added that society needs to look at how locally grown food can promote sustainability. However, he said, true sustainability requires more than just a quick trip to the local produce stand.

“To reach the sustainability that will last for thousands of years, without fossil fuel because all those will be exhausted, we’re really looking at probably as local as growing in your backyard where you could walk out and pick it,” Moore explained.

Buying local in and around Burlington: The Farmers

“To provide the highest quality of food for own family, our friends, and our community while doing our best to leave the Earth a little better place than we found it,” is the mission statement for Asgard Farm in Gibsonville, NC.

Asgard Farm, a small family farm, relies heavily on the community. It was started six years ago with alpacas and now produces pasteurized poultry, eggs, chicken, turkey and beef.

Aday

Aday and her daughter at her booth at the Burlington Downtown Farmer’s Market,
Photo by Erin Valentine

Owner Allison Aday, a verterinary technician for 18 years, is now a full-time farmer who sees the importance of local farming in food security and lowering her carbon footprint.

She spends her early weekend mornings at The Burlington Downtown Farmer’s Market.

“A lot of this is new to Burlington – we’re trying to get the word out,” Aday said.

Another regular seller at the market is Jordan Walker, a local farmer for GlenMarie Vineyards Winery in Burlington.

Walker pulls up his truck to load all of his goods at the Burlington Downtown Farmer's Market, Photo by Erin Valentine

Walker pulls up his truck to load all of his goods at the Burlington Downtown Farmer’s Market,
Photo by Erin Valentine

“What’s good for downtown is good for everybody,” Walker said. “I think this is bringing people out on the weekends and they get to have some fresh food. It’s good to know your farmers too. We like getting to know the customers – what they like. It’s really all about community.”

Walker recently decided to diversify his crops and offered some unique produce at the market, including bok choy, kale, Swiss chard and arugula. He noted most of their produce is grown in plastic containers.

Walker's prices are similar to those found in a grocery store, Photo by Erin Valentine

Walker’s prices are similar to those found in a grocery store,
Photo by Erin Valentine

Although Walker’s selection is diverse, it’s not necessarily expensive.

“A lot of people think that farmer’s market stuff is more expensive,” Walker explained. “It’s really not – it’s quite affordable. Some things are even cheaper.”

Reedy Fork Farm, located in Elon, delivers milk to Asheville each day to be bottled and sold under the Organic Valley label. 

While Reedy Fork does not need to take its products of milk, beef and organic feed to markets, it still depends on the local community of consumers and the local farming community.

“The local farming community is very close knit,” said Melissa Blanchard of Reedy Fork Farm. “Although most farms in North Carolina are still conventional (not organic), we still collaborate on different ideas, help one another when needed, and most importantly try and convince conventional farms that the better way is the organic way of living.”

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Reedy Fork Farm is a certified organic farm through Oregon Tilth and sits on 600 acres of land in Elon. The farm has had six generations farm the land. According to Blanchard, Reedy Fork’s belief is that “one should take care of the farms around them, by purchasing what they produce to help fuel the economy, and to help eliminate the carbon footprint by not hauling produce, etc., around the country.”

While every farm in North Carolina is dependent upon consumers to buy their products, it’s not logical to expect every consumer of produce or beef or eggs to buy directly from the farmer.Instead, farmers will take their products to markets and warehouses.

Buying local in and around Burlington: The Markets

For Garden Valley Market, buying local is a necessity for business. Open for 20 years and with three locations in Burlington and Haw River, owner Joshua Reading is no stranger to the pros and cons of the local food community.

Garden Valley Farmers Market in Burlington, NC, Photo by Erin Valentine

Garden Valley Farmers Market in Burlington, NC,
Photo by Erin Valentine

Reading has found buying local allows him to support the economy and raise the quality of his goods.

“I am able to put my hands on the product and meet the growers face-to-face before I stock my stores with their goods,” Reading explained. “I am able to buy better quality and fresher material that you will find at large chain stores.”

In all of the years of his business, Reading has run into a few bumps. One of those has been the aging of the farmers in the community. According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), about 59% of North Carolina farm owners are 55 and older. The average age of a farm owner is 57.3.

“The local farming community is made up of hard working, mostly older, folks who love the outdoors as much as we do,” Reading said. “This community is also shrinking due to folks dying off or land being sold.”

Another market in the Burlington area is Company Shops Market. According to Elizabeth Read, the marketing manager, Company Shops is a community grocery store whose goal is to connect with both consumers and farmers.

The Company Shops Market is part of the revitalization of downtown Burlington,  Photo courtesy of The Company Shops Market

The Company Shops Market is part of the revitalization of downtown Burlington,
Photo courtesy of The Company Shops Market

Opened in May 2011, Company Shops is working to make a niche for itself in the locally grown food market.

“The reason the founders decided to open the co-op is actually because of access to local foods,” Read said. “When they founded the company, there was not an operating farmer’s market.”

Company Shops opened to offer a healthy alternative for a grocery store and to revitalize downtown Burlington. To incorporate produce from local farmers, Company Shops has a computer program where local farmers can sign-up to bring in whatever food is needed at the market. The food is brought to the market and put on the shelves as soon as possible.

“A big grocery store just buys from their distributor. One click and they don’t have to worry about it,” Read explained. “Organic, since it doesn’t have preservatives, tends to have a shorter shelf life. So getting it on the shelf as soon as possible is really important.”

Some produce is even put on shelves hours after it is picked.

Infographic by Erin Valentine

Infographic by Erin Valentine

“Other grocery stores talk about other foods and they might put produce from North Carolina on their shelf,” Reading said on her concern about food miles, or travel time. “But before it got on their shelf, it may have gone to their warehouse in Georgia.”

Reading, however, talked about how while a lot of their food comes from local farmers, some of the more popular items still require a lot of travel time. Mangos, for example, come from South America, and no organic bananas are grown near North Carolina.

To educate consumers on some of the less traditional products at the market, Company Shops offers a hot bar, sandwich counter and bakery.

Local food labels and restaurants

Lee Comer, owner of the Iron Hen Café in Greensboro, sees organic as “the next step and where the world is moving to.”

For its four years of business, the Iron Hen Café’s niche has been utilizing organic and local foods.

“You get a better product. You get a fresher product. You get to know where it’s coming from,” Comer said. “You get more control over what comes in and what you’re going to order.”

Comer’s personal work with farmers allows her to foster relationships with her suppliers, which gives more negotiating power and quality control.

Yet, her process of receiving local foods still has some negative effects.

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“Because you are dealing with farmers, that may be a one-man show or a family operation, it may be more difficult to get ordering systems in place,” Comer explained. “And you’re limited. You’re dealing with the person who is selling you the product, harvesting the product and then collecting the money.”

Buying local has not only affected the efficiency of her business, it has also had negative economic implications.

“You’re paying a premium price,” Comer stated. “A bigger city, where they’ve been doing this for years, that’s not the way it works. People are actually paying less for locally grown food. It’s traveling less. Everything about it, the whole production, is much less. But here, for some reason, we pay a premium for that.”

For Comer, The Iron Hen Café is worth the price. For her, the food revolution is going towards locally grown food, so to center her business practices on buying local makes perfect sense.

The North Carolina Farm to School Program, formed by the NCDA&CS in 1997, has been working to integrate local produce into the North Carolina school system.

In the 2011-2012 school year, North Carolina schools spent an estimated $34,408,392 on local foods, including berries, apples, sweet potatoes, lettuce and watermelon. The program also helped implement 103 edible school gardens into the state school system.

Infographic by Erin Valentine

Infographic by Erin Valentine

Buying local at the national level

Danielle Nirenberg, an American activist, author and journalist, co-founded the Food Tank in 2013. The Food Tank is a non-profit organization that works to find sustainable solutions to hunger and poverty by informing and connecting people.

“Locally grown foods cannot only help contribute to local economies and but also help eaters gain a closer connection to the food system,” Nirenberg said.

While the local food movement is growing, there are still obstacles it needs to overcome.

One such obstacle is the US FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, signed in to law by President Obama in 2011.

The act could crack down and restrict the availability of local foods. It opens the door for more legislation to be added to regulate the quality of food stands. At the moment, it is up to the seller to regulate the cleanliness of his or her food.

Another issue for the local food movement is many people have the notion that local food prices are too high to purchase on a regular basis. However, this tends to depend on location and availability.

For now, the locally grown food movement is growing – and is still a seedling on the world stage.

Math Tools: Measurements and the Metric

By Erin Valentine

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Chapter 9: Directional Measurements 

Time, rate and distance problems are essential in journalism. Don’t fear, they just involve basic math. It comes in handy when you have to double check officials and be confident in your findings.

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Chapter 10: Area Measurements

Knowing how to restate and translate measurements is a great addition to a story. One use is an analogy to give the reader something to compare the information to. When in doubt, just use simple numbers.

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Chapter 11: Volume Measurements

Goods are sold based on volumes. However, each market changes the terms and meanings. Thus, a reporter needs to be able to figure out what the correct selling price is.

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 4.41.25 PMChapter 12: The Metric System

With almost the entire rest of the world using the metric system, it is inevitable that a journalist will have to make conversions between the American system and the metric system.

All information is from Wickham’s “Math Tools for Journalists”