Alumna wins journalism award for ‘dumpster diving’


Rarely does climbing into garbage dumpsters bring with it awards for excellence in journalism. But that’s exactly what it did for Flagler grad Haley Walker, ‘09, who won first place for Online In-Depth Reporting in the Society of Professional Journalists’ regional Mark of Excellence competition.

Her piece, written for an advanced reporting class and run in Flagler’s online student newspaper, The Gargoyle, chronicled her search through local dumpsters for food that is still edible if cleaned properly.

For her story, Walker learned proper “dumpster-diving etiquette” from the volunteer organization Food Not Bombs and ate solely from the trash for several weeks. Dumpster-divers recover food that is thrown out to make fresh, hot vegan and vegetarian meals to be served in outside public spaces, primarily for the homeless.

Walker said she became engulfed in the experience. “It became a thrilling hunt, and I was immediately flooded with enthusiasm as more and more edible food was found,” she wrote in the story.

The piece was for Assistant Professor of Communication Helena Särkiö’s class. Särkiö said she likes to push her students to take on out-of-the-box assignments. “I want them to experience something that they have never experienced before,” she said.

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