The Real Food Challenge chapter at Towson University hosted a dinner while discussing on campus food sustainability with students, last Wednesday. The dinner, which had been prepared for three days prior to the event, was 100 percent vegan and zero percent waste which embodies the goal of the Real Food Challenge.
Real Food Challenge is a national campaign with the goal of uniting students across campuses to rally for ethically sound and sustainable food. They hope to empower college students and universities to create healthy, sound and green food systems within their campuses. They hope to reallocate $1 billion of existing university food budgets from industrial farms towards local and community-based food sources by 2020.
“We have the power now to make a positive and active change,” Haley Molnar, a member of the Real Food Chapter at Towson University, said.
Before the dinner, a panel discussed food sustainability with students and debated several issues within university food sources. Their main focus was discussing how Towson University can become more sustainable.
“It’s all about the ways you individually reduce waste,” Evan Lutz, the CEO and co-founder of Hungry Harvest, said. The Hungry Harvest is a company that takes surplus produce and delivers it to customers to promote food security. “It takes a lot of collaboration with urban farming and farmer’s markets.”
Several on the panel agreed that farmer’s markets are an excellent way for students to buy locally, including Ned Atwater, the owner of the bakery Atwater’s that sells organic and local ingredients.
Unanimously, the panel agreed that awareness and empowerment are the two greatest sources in achieving food sustainability on campuses.
“The biggest problem on college campuses is that we’re not aware, and changing the viewpoint so people become knowledgeable is the main goal,” Clarissa Chen, a student at Johns Hopkins University and part of their Real Food Challenge team, said. “I think in terms of getting a college to change is a change in policy, and this change shows how much power universities have in the food market and system.”
After the panel discussion, students were served a vegan dinner with options that also included gluten-free meals. A ratatouille dish was served, as well as soup, salad, mango cake and bread provided by Atwater’s. The dinner served over 30 students, and produced zero percent waste including the silverware and dishes.
“We should all feel empowered to have a real say in the food system,” Allison Boyd said, the coordinator for the Farm Alliance in Baltimore City. The alliance increases urban farming and access to urban grown foods.
“Make shifts in supply through shifts in your demands by voting with your dollars,” Boyd said. “The more you know, the more you can change.”