by Micah Wilkins, Editor-in-Chief
Warren Wilson became the first college in the South to participate in the Real Food Challenge when president Steve Solnick officially signed the commitment last Monday.
The Real Food Challenge is the largest student food justice organization in the country, and it has sparked a movement to get colleges and universities to move toward more sustainable, local and fair trade food in cafeterias across the United States. This commitment sets the goal of having at least 40% of the food served in Gladfelter and CowPie be sustainably sourced by the year 2020.
This goal coincides with the Sustainability Plan that past president Sandy Pfeiffer signed in 2009.
However, signing onto the Real Food Commitment provides the college not only with a framework to work off of, but also it provides a support network of other colleges who are working to achieve similar goals. Warren Wilson has signed up for double the commitment, in a sense, because most schools that sign on to the commitment agree to have 20%, rather than 40% Real Food. Schools that have already signed on include Oberlin College, Bard College, Wesleyan University and the University of Vermont.
Now that the commitment has been signed, the school will now have to consider more ways that it can produce more of its own food. The garden has the potential to be producing a lot more food than it currently does, and the farm could start selling more meats to the school.
Sodexo, Warren Wilson’s food provider, has just signed an agreement with the Real Food Challenge that puts in place a set of high standards for what is “real food.” It must meet four criteria— local, fair, ecologically sound and humane. This agreement increases transparency about where Sodexo’s food comes from.
“Sodexo, as a food provider, they are and have been the most willing to work with us,” said Local Foods Crew member Beryl Shepley-Brandhorst during a Student Caucus meeting earlier this semester. “If the students want it enough, we can make it work.”