November 22, 2010
Colleges and universities in the United States spend over $4 billion every year on food. Imagine if that purchasing power were shifted towards food that is community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and humane. That’s the idea behind the Real Food Challenge (RFC), a national network uniting students for just and sustainable food and a campaign to increase procurement of “real food” on college and university campuses.
While a student at Brown University, David Schwartz, an alumnus of The Food Project‘s Local Youth Programs, co-founded the RFC with Director of National Programs at The Food Project, Anim Steel. The two envision a shift in university food spending of $1 billion in 10 years: The goal of the RFC is to direct 20% of college and university food dollars to “food that truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities and the earth” by 2020. Only a few years old, the RFC holds student leader trainings and summits throughout the country, offering a chance for students and their allies to make connections, learn from one another, and grow the movement. Students at over 300 schools are already taking the Real Food Challenge.
Just a few weeks ago, undergraduates Raychel Santo and Ian Osbourne held the first meeting of Real Food Hopkins, a new student group and RFC chapter at Johns Hopkins University. The room at the Center for Social Concern on the Homewood Campus was full of eager students and snacks-organic tortilla chips, veggies, and dip made from greens from the JHU student garden. Prior to its first official meeting, the group had already broken ground, transplanting radishes, onions and garlic; harvesting greens and herbs to donate to JHU’s Campus Kitchen for soup kitchen meals; and holding the first Real Food JHU event, a “jam session” during which students learned how to pickle the fall harvest from Dr. Marta Hanson (JHU Professor, urban forager, gardener, cook, and writer) as part of “Green Your Routine” week.
While maintaining a sustainable campus garden, Real Food Hopkins will promote community-based learning about food and where it comes from, raise awareness about food issues and the urban agriculture movement in Baltimore, and donate fresh produce to organizations that feed the local hungry. The group is open to all members of the Hopkins community. For more information, contact Raychel Santo or Ian Osbourne.