Students help prepare lunch

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

The Log Lunch, a beloved Williams tradition, has literally provided food for thought for nearly 50 years. After a yearlong hiatus due to the pandemic, it has returned this fall with great enthusiasm.

Held on Fridays during the academic year at The Log, a popular gathering spot for food and drink located in the center of Williamstown, the Log Lunch brings together about 100 students, staff and faculty across all disciplines for a vegetarian meal prepared by students, followed by a half-hour talk on a host of environmental topics including water contamination issues, farmworker justice and oyster harvesting.

The lunches are run by the college’s Center for Environmental Studies (CES), and guest speakers are drawn from the student body, faculty, the alumni community and local, national and international organizations. “Log Lunch speakers are mostly practitioners—people from all walks of life who are working to save our environment through activism, writing, advocacy, politics, urban planning, social justice, research, government, business, farming, teaching and everything in between,” says CES Associate Director Sarah Gardner, who has organized the gatherings for the past two decades. “Their talks are relatable and inspiring. They have a personal angle, often explaining how they got to where they are today.”

In addition to providing an opportunity to learn about important environmental issues from folks in the field, students build an appreciation for fresh, locally grown food and regional food operations by working with nearby farms that provide seasonal vegetables for the lunches—butternut and acorn squash, onions and garlic in the fall—as well as fruits, herbs and other ingredients.

Student workers, including Jenae Rasmussen ’23, set the menus and cook the meals, often searching the internet for ideas based on what foods are available on a given week. “Having to think about what’s in season each week gives us a really good jumping-off point,” Rasmussen says. On Friday mornings she and several of her fellow students pile into the Log kitchen where they busily get to work chopping veggies, baking bread and creating sauces for the day’s menu.  

“Preparing a meal for a hundred people is a great challenge, but lots of fun,” says Jaya Alagar ’22, who helps with cooking as well as cleanup. “Music is always blaring, chatter is always erupting, the dishwasher’s continually running. There’s a lot of commotion, but it means that everyone is working together, for each other and with each other. And I think that’s amazing.”

Students line up for the Log Lunch.
A crowd gathers outside the Log.
Students enter the Log.
Students enter the Log for a lunchtime talk.
Students preparing food.
Students prepare roasted squash and bread.
Student baking cookies.
A student worker bakes chocolate chip cookies.