Student Activists and University Leaders Educate Campuses & Make Pledges to Change Food System as Part of New Grassroots Campaign

On October 24, tens of thousands of students on over 250 college campuses in 46 states will take part in Food Day. On-campus events will range from cook-offs and movie screenings to public demonstrations and local food banquets. Food Day is being co-coordinated by Real Food Challenge, the largest national student organization committed to building a just and sustainable food economy, and the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest.

This event is part of a larger movement towards 'real food' on college campuses that has exploded in the past two years. On October 12, for example, Macalester College became the 8th institution in the nation to sign the president's Real Food Campus Commitment—pledging to devote at least 30 percent of their campus food budgets to local farms and fair food businesses. Macalester joins leading institutions such as Wesleyan University, UC Santa Cruz and University Vermont in this effort to reinvest in millions of dollars in innovative, sustainable farms and food cooperatives.

"We're transitioning our purchasing from conventional corporate food to food that is real," explains Macalester College junior Abbie Shain. "A commitment to food justice is a commitment to people. It's about the farmworkers in California and the truck drivers in Nebraska and the people who serve food in our dining hall."

Food Day 2012 will further this trend with events highlighting the problems of obesity, struggling family farmers, food chain worker abuse—as well as celebrating the transition to healthy, fair and sustainably-produced food systems.

  • At Duke University in Durham, NC, the Duke Real Food Campaign celebrates Food Day with "Food For Thought," an outdoor real food potluck and discussion in front of the iconic Duke Chapel. More details here.
  • UC Santa Cruz will celebrate Food Day with 100% local and organic dining hall fare, and a special pumpkin carving festival on their 20+ acre campus farm. More details here.
  • At Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, student organization Real Food Hopkins is hosting their 3rd annual 100-Mile Meal, comprised of ingredients within 100 miles of campus, and featuring the premiere of film series Food Mythbusters with guest appearance by Anna Lappe, the film's creator. More details here.
  • Williams College in Williamstown, MA is celebrating Food Day with a week of events and activities, including a garden work party, gender and food lunch discussion, and an outdoor vendor fair. Williams also welcomes biologist and writer Joe Roman along with chef and activist Bun Lai for a lecture called Eat the Invaders, discussing the eradication of (tasty) invasive weed species by eating them. More details here.
  • At University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Food Day will showcase a "Good Food for Eating" fair featuring 30+ campus and community organizations that work on health, food, and sustainable farming. The event will be followed by a "Good Food for Thinking" symposium highlighting the academic side of the food movement. More details here.

Altogether, an estimated 30,000 students are expected to participate in Food Day events this week. They join Americans of all walks of life who will participate in more than 2,500 events nationwide.

"This growing tide of student activism may in fact be the quickest way to create a healthier food system. Colleges and universities spend $5 billion of food each year and consistently lead food industry trends," said David Schwartz, Campaign Director for Real Food Challenge. "If students are successful in their 'real food' efforts, this could mean new opportunities for tens of thousands of small farms and food businesses—radically shifting the US food landscape."

"Americans are craving changes for the better in food and food policy, and nowhere is this more obvious than at colleges and universities," said CSPI executive director and Food Day founder Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D. "What Real Food Challenge is doing on Food Day is going to have a powerful and lasting impact on students, individual campuses, and the entire food chain."

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Real Food Challenge (RFC) is a national student organization dedicated to creating a just and sustainable food system. Real Food Challenge mobilizes students and campus stakeholders to shift college and university food spending to local, fair, ecological and humane food sources. To date, RFC has shifted $48.5 million in institutional purchases to 'real food.'

Food Day is the nationwide celebration and movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Food Day takes place annually on October 24 to address issues as varied as health and nutrition, hunger, agricultural policy, animal welfare, and farm worker justice. Spearheaded by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest and backed by a diverse advisory board of food leaders and organizations, the ultimate goal of Food Day is to strengthen and unify the food movement in order to improve our nation’s food policies.