Every year, colleges and universities spend approximately $5 billion dollars on food. And the great majority of this money is spent on food that is produced far from where it is consumed using toxic chemicals that impairs the health of workers in the fields, our environment, and consumers.
Luckily, students are beginning to see themselves as more than consumers, increasingly advocating for more local, sustainable, and humane food. Since 2004, the college food service industry has revolutionized due in large part to the efforts of Real Food Challenge (RFC), a coalition of educators and university students across the nation, who desire to create a healthier and greener food system amongst higher education institutions. Through RFC, students are educating and empowering their peers, building relationships with their campus dining corporate representatives as well as small food producers, and negotiating the shift from industrial food dollars to local food dollars with these different stakeholders. Read more
A little over a year ago, I radically changed my family’s diet from what most American’s would consider to be “normal food” to strictly “real food.” Before making this drastic change we thought we were making fairly healthy food choices, but I now realize those decisions were heavily influenced by what the food industry defines as “healthy.” I was planning our meals around supermarket sales and coupons, allowing our kids to indulge in fast food on occasion, and–I admit–eating my sandwiches on store-bought white bread. I’ve always had a love for cooking, but never once did it occur to me to plan our meals around the fresh, local food that was in season, nor did I ever think to read, much less scrutinize, the ingredient list on a food product before buying it. Read more
Food is the pulse of the millennial generation as thousands of young people are propelling the new good food movement forward by planting the seeds of a more just and sustainable food system. Across the country, students are activating for social change on campuses, while hundreds of new farmers and gardeners are digging into neighborhoods, and innovative food ventures are sprouting up. Come meet some of the best and brightest of these young food activists on Tuesday, May 3, as Kitchen Table Talks, in conjunction with UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism, hosts a lively discussion with some of the leading youth voices whose mandate is food. Read more
As Thanksgiving nears, and we turn our collective attention to the food we will be putting on the table, I have been thinking a great deal about a group of farmworkers I met earlier this month. As part of a Symposium on Food Systems and Sustainability, I had the opportunity to travel with a small group of students, professors, and advocates to Knights Landing, an unincorporated community northwest of Sacramento. There, in a community center normally dedicated to child care, language classes, and basic clinical services, we sat down with around a dozen men and women, who engage in the most labor-intensive piece of California’s agricultural puzzle. Read more
Jordan Treakle hails from the mountains of western North Carolina and recently graduated with a degree International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a student he was a founding member of the UNC student group FLO (Fair, Local, Organic) Food. Jordan directed the organization’s goal of promoting institutional purchasing of sustainable foods in collaboration with the Carolina Dining Services (CDS) and helped build new supplier partnerships that promoted local food purchasing and consumption. His efforts have insured that FLO Food and CDS together are developing a successful model for sustainable food to be served at a flagship, public university. His work with the Real Food Challenge, a national student-led NGO working to build the youth sustainable food movement, has helped to establish working relationships with a range of local community groups and regional non-profit organizations in the Southeast as part as the RFC’s national campaign to increase direct farm-to-university links in the food chain. He is currently organizing farmers around hydraulic fracturing issues at the Rural Advancement Foundation International.
CE: What issues have you been focused on?
JT: For the past three years I’ve focused on student and youth organizing around agriculture issues in North Carolina and the Southeast. I initially became interested in industrial hog production in North Carolina and the effects it has on the land and the people in my home state. This led to analyzing the institutional food purchasing of my university and how students can advocate for universities to invest in sustainable food systems. Read more
When was the last time you went to a conference that followed dinner with a rock, paper, scissors tournament among 150 participants? At times the 2nd annual Southeast Youth Food Activist Summit (SYFAS) felt more like summer camp than a conference (in a good way). Don’t be mistaken though; we got down to business.
SYFAS is the first of six Real Food Summits that will be happening over the next two months across the country as part of the Real Food Challenge, a student movement to increase the procurement of real (sustainably grown, fair, humane and local) food on college and university campuses, with the national goal of 20% real food by 2020. Read more
“Real Food Now!” is the rallying cry of a new generation of student leaders on college campuses this fall. In October, thousands of students on hundreds of campuses will participate in a national month of action, challenging their schools to invest in food that is healthy, local, fair, ecologically sound and humane. Read more