Posted on Thu, November 01, 2012 by Tim Smith
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Written by Katelyn Montalvo, Slow Food USA intern
The Food Movement has inspired college students to take action on their own campuses!
Huge companies such as Sodexo and Aramark sign contracts with colleges so they can provide their dining hall food. The food that Sodexo and Aramark supply is often not local, organic or fair. The farmers and farmworkers are being regulated by these big companies and are not receiving the money they deserve. Without the big companies taking control of the farmers, schools can make their own deals and cut out the middleman. Campuses can make connections to their local farms in order to support them directly and provide sustainable healthy food for their students.
Students are aware of what is going on in the food system and are campaigning for the campuses to change the food providers in order to serve local, organic and fair food. Real Food Challenge is an example of a non-profit that works with students in order to change the food system on campuses. Their mission is change the $1 billion that university’s use for food budgeting from industrial farms to local, organic, humane and fair food providers by 2020.
University of Vermont in March became the 5th school in the nation to sign the “Real Food Campus Commitment” which states that the University pledges to serve 20% “real food” by 2020. Students had to take initiative and talk to their dining services about where their food was coming from and how they would have to work together to change their system. By working together University of Vermont has not only changed their dining services but is now in support of local Vermont farmers, producers and community members. Another school where students have taken the initiative to break the bind from Sodexo is Emory University.
Slow Food Emory is determined to swap 75% of their food supply with local produce by 2015. Students from Emory have teamed up with Julie Shaffer, the founder and regional governor of Slow Food Atlanta, in order to make change on campus. Emory already has a team of thirty-one farmers who are on board and ready to serve fresh goodies to their campus. Slow Food Emory is setting the precedent as the first college in the Southeast to bring fresh, organic and local produce to tables on a larger scale.
Students are not only changing the food on campus but adding to the bigger picture of supporting local farmers and farmworkers. They are finding their own place in the food movement. National Northeast Real Food Challenge Organizer Leila Quinn explains the momentum as “a movement based on hope, cooperation, and being proactive instead of based on fear, disagreement, and being reactive. Using your creativity, critical thinking skills, and creating community is what it means to be a student. Organizing around food justice is perfect for students!”
College students are feeling the rush of empowerment from the food movement and are using this energy to their advantage. Students are once again making a difference and starting their own revolutions. As Sara Wilson, a student activist at Bennington College says “The time is ripe for a food revolution, where we nourish both ourselves and the Earth we all walk on, becoming more fulfilling human beings and living in a more harmonious world.”