Real Food Challenge seeks to improve quality of on-campus dining

By Jeffrey Robinowitz ’17, Staff Writer

Last weekend, the Real Food Challenge (RFC) came to campus. Thanks to the efforts of certain professors and a student group, Julia Fleisch ’16, president of the Environmental Action Alliance, surveyed the campus community to get their attitudes on campus dining.

According to its website, the RFC “leverages the power of youth and universities to create a healthy, fair and green food system. [Furthermore, its] primary campaign is to shift $1 billion of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms and junk food and towards local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources—what [they] call “real food”—by 2020.”

Fleisch, who learned of the organization from a friend who now works for the RFC, expressed immediate interest. Then, in October 2013, she made contact with an RFC employee, attended the RFC National Summit in Minnesota, and was so inspired by the passion of those she met, that upon returning to F&M she presented the information that she learned to the College Sustainability Committee’s Food working group.

Fleisch also said she was interested in getting involved with the RFC because even though the College lies in the heart of one of the most fertile regions in America, some of the food served at the College is imported from far away.

People involved with the RFC on campus include Linda Aleci, professor of art history and chairwoman of the Sustainability Committee, Michael Kulik, professor of public policy and earth and environment, and Darielle Christman ’14, Annie Kreutz ’14, Julie Hornsby ’17, and Dora Xi Chu ’15, in addition to Fleisch.

Initiatives that the RFC is currently working on include analyzing Sodexo’s invoices, researching their suppliers, surveying the campus’ attitudes on dining, and more. In the long term, Fleisch hopes to have 20 percent of real food used in campus dining by 2020.

Beyond the goals of her initiative, Fleisch also expressed a desire to affect F&M students on a more personal level. By bringing this organization and its ideal to our campus, Fleisch hopes to inspire student to think about where their food comes from and the results of their food choices. She also hopes to show students that they have the power to help make a change.

“Well, we’re working on it—and it’s a process,” she said.

For more information about RFC, we suggest visiting its website at the following link, http://www.realfoodchallenge.org/.

First-year Jeffrey Robinowitz is a staff writer. His email is jrobinow@fandm.edu.

print