Studying these cells could lead to new treatments for diseases ranging from gastrointestinal disease to diabetes.
A cooperative effort between students and Division of Student Life is bearing fruit in the form of a campus produce stand that will open for business beginning Tuesday, March 31.
The MIT Market will sell fruits and vegetables from noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays in the East Campus Courtyard near Walker Memorial. The stand will be run by Russo's, the Watertown-based retailer that won the "Best Produce" category in Boston magazine's 2007 Best of Boston rankings.
Sophomore Vrajesh Modi, an Undergraduate Association Senator from East Campus, proposed the project to Dean for Student Life Chris Colombo in January after working with other students to poll East Campus residents about ways to make fruits and vegetables more accessible and affordable. Modi, who called the fruit and vegetable stand idea a "unanimous choice," then worked with staff in Residential Life and Campus Dining to make the project a reality.
"Ideally, we would like to see the student body at large use this and see it have a positive impact on health and wellness at MIT," said Modi. "We would also like to see this become a permanent part of the culture and the dining system."
Julie Banda, a health educator at The Center for Health Promotion and Wellness at MIT Medical, advises students to consume five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. She agrees with Modi's hopes for the stand.
"Many students know they need to eat well and want to do so, but cannot overcome the barriers that come along with their hectic schedules and limited budgets," said Banda. "This initiative can help, and I am thrilled to see this happening."
Richard Berlin, director of Campus Dining, said he hopes having the stand on campus will allow students and other community members more convenient access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and indicated that he and Modi had discussed options for additional service days.
"We will continue to assess the program," said Berlin. " If it is well-received, and the demand exists, we will look to open the operation on Fridays as well."