Real Food Challenge at Oregon State University
Winter Term 2012, Food Projects students initiated the Real Food Challenge at Oregon State University (OSU). Real Food Challenge (RFC) is a nationwide effort to get university and college campuses to make a commitment towards providing local and sustainably produced foods in their dining facilities. The first step is conducting a baseline survey of foods currently served using the Real Food Calculator tool. By initiating this project here, OSU joined eight campuses in the Northwest that are already part of the Real Food Challenge movement.
This project is ongoing and long-term, but the first step involves conducting a baseline survey of food currently served at campus dining facilities. This initial phase of the project is well underway at OSU. The students began by establishing working relations with the RFC coordinators of the Pacific Northwest after which establishing contact with the OSU University Housing and Dining Services (UHDS) staff, who were just as enthusiastic about the project as the students were. UHDS has continued to be very supportive in getting the project off the ground. Spring Term 2012, the students started conducting the baseline survey. Once complete, the baseline survey will include an assessment of all the foods served in UHDS dining facilities during the months of October and May, which will serve as a representative sample of foods served throughout the academic year.
At the end of Spring Term 2012 the students completed cataloging the foods sourced from SYSCO and served at Marketplace West, one of the larger dining facilities at OSU. They are now in the process of classifying each food item according to the RFC criteria for sustainably produced foods. The four main criteria are whether food is 1) locally produced, 2) humanely produced, 3) ecologically sound, and 4) sourced through fair trading practices.
The RFC project has been a great and enjoyable experience so far. The students have learned a lot and met some very interesting people including the chefs and staff at UHDS who are in charge of meeting the daily food needs of students and wider OSU community. The students will continue this project through the 2012-2013 academic year, during which time they intend to complete the assessment for all the OSU dining facilities.
If you are interested in joining the project, learning more about food systems or working on sustainability issues, the Real Food Challenge might be the project for you. Contact the Food in Culture and Social Justice Coordinator for more information.