Taking the Satisfy Hunger Campaign to the Next Level
By Katie Clayton
The Real World Classroom™ Design Program at SUNY Ulster is at it again, this time teaming up with Chris Hewitt, executive director of the Hudson Valley Current, a local digital currency geared towards strengthening our communities and sustaining the local economy. One of the HV Current’s projects is the Satisfy Hunger campaign, which is a food security initiative that brings local community members together to share in community dining experiences. What better way to do this than by way of a food truck?
The idea of a food truck cruising through the Hudson Valley, serving its local community on a pay-what-you-can model sounds like a humanitarian’s dream. Not to mention, who doesn’t like a good food truck? One of their best features are their unique designs, giving patrons a feel for what they have to offer inside. That’s where Professor and Applied Learning Expert Sean Nixon of SUNY Ulster’s Real World Classroom™ Design Program comes in.
The program got its start in 2004, out of Nixon’s desire to give his students an edge and level the playing field in regards to their futures in creative design. According to Nixon it’s simple: “I wanted to accelerate the learning process, they deserved a model of learning that was relevant and motivational that better prepared them for the workplace and transfer to four year programs. Why wait to be out in the world when it can be your classroom now?” After Nixon donated to the Satisfy Hunger GoFundMe campaign, he approached Hewitt about the idea of creating a design for the exterior of a Satisfy Hunger food truck.
Satisfy Hunger started with a series of community dinners held by the Current in both Rosendale and Kingston—geared towards providing wholesome locally sourced food for people in need and spreading knowledge of the Current to both its members and prospective members, all while successfully bridging the gap between those who needed a hearty meal and those who just wanted to come out and see what was going on in their communities. After the success of those dinners Hewitt wanted to come up with a way to take his community dining events on the road. “I came into Professor Nixon’s classroom describing Satisfy Hunger,” Hewitt said, “which led into a first round of logo designs for the campaign. After deciding on a final logo design, created by SUNY Ulster student Vincent Mainetti, the class moved on to food truck designs. Chef Christine Atkinson [who volunteers to run the kitchen at Satisfy Hunger events] and I chose the food truck design, which was also done by Vincent.”
Vincent Mainetti has been a student at SUNY Ulster for the last two years, expanding his knowledge of design. In 2012 he graduated from SUNY Dutchess with an A.A.S. in art studies. Post grad he spent two years working as an environmental technician in New Paltz; it was there that he realized a career in manual labor was not what he wanted. Instead he re-enrolled in school at Ulster. “I decided I had to go back to school and learn a skill that would allow me to pursue a career doing something I love.”
As a student in the Real World Classroom™ Design Program, Mainetti has gained a greater understanding of problem solving, creative thinking, time management, and most importantly in his opinion, the knowledge to do something that he enjoys. “It has shown me that there are more careers in the design field than I was originally aware of, and has allowed me to explore a few of these first hand by having the class work directly with clients.” Mainetti plans to continue his education at SUNY New Paltz in their BFA program, while continuing to freelance on the side. For Mainetti it appears the sky’s the limit regarding his future. “I would like to get a job as a junior designer, working my way through the ranks to eventually become an art director. There’s also always the possibility that I freelance and try to create my own design firm.”
Sebastian Clites, another student in the design program, shared his thoughts on graphic design: “Don’t be afraid of really out-of-the-box ideas. They may end up being the best ones.” Fellow classmates Liz Galeano and Desiree Burns said the key to design is simplicity. Galeano said, “When you do logo design you want to keep it simple, clean, and fun to look at.”
As for The Real World Classroom™ Design Program, Nixon attributes much of their success to the support system that his faculty members, college, and community has become. Most recently they started an app designed to help students take initiative in the progress of their education. Professor Nixon came up with the idea through his experience as a college advisor. “Students need mentors, advisors, and colleagues to learn how to network, and figure out what school to transfer to and why. We wanted to offer this for retention; the more a student is engaged in their subject matter it’s more likely they will preserve and sustain their motivation to learn.”
And the food truck? While Hewitt is still in the planning stages of the project, and working out funding, if all goes well the Satisfy Hunger food truck may soon be cruising through a town near you. To learn more about Satisfy Hunger or to support the campaign, visit gofundme.com/satisfyhunger.