In February, Greening Dining sent five student members to participate in the 2016 Real Food Challenge Regional Action Training in Baltimore, MD. Jazmyn Blackburn '19, Shun Yamaya '19, Katie Little '16, Selina Pi '19, Cecilia Shang '18 (see photo) joined about 50 student leaders from the northeast US in training sessions led by Real Food Challenge staff members, local food producers, and activists. Attending the conference allowed students to gain knowledge about effective ways to advocate for sustainable food options, as well as logistical considerations needed to bring about realistic change towards a real food economy.
At the conference, the students bonded as a team and learned several necessary steps to take action. They discussed the meaning of a 'real food' system: which consists of not only healthy and local foods that are environmentally friendly, but also humane working conditions, food sovereignty and access, and healthy communities. They also learned key concepts in grassroots action, such as the spectrum of allies and group structure, and ways to organize, which range from individual socially responsible behavior to advocacy and education. The action workshops taught participants how to focus on collecting numerical data, establish goals in a timeline, and form food systems working groups with administration and food service workers. The students brainstormed issues to focus on in the coming semester, including animal welfare, increasing awareness of why sustainable food should be a priority on campus, and food waste.
Since the conference, Greening Dining has continued their ongoing dialogue and collaboration with Campus Dining and are participating in the Tiger Chef Challenge and Earth Day Food Expo on April 22. Greening Dining has collaborated with Campus Dining since 2002 in an effort to adopt more sustainable practices in the dining halls.
Greening Dining's participation in the conference was funded by the High Meadows Foundation Sustainability Fund.