by Grace Hatton, Reverb Editor
If you’ve heard about the real food commitment around campus or seen those fun flyers in the napkins dispensers in Gladfelter and Cowpie asking what real food is you may find yourself wondering what exactly is the real food commitment and how will it affect me?
On April 15 Warren Wilson became the first college in the southeast to sign the Real Food Commitment. By doing this the college has committed to serving 40% real food by 2020. ‘Real Food’ is defined by a certain set of criteria which is predominantly food miles and third party certificates such as organic, fair trade, or fishery friendly. The criteria is set by the Real Food Challenge, the national campaign that created the Real Food Commitment.
The Real Food Challenge’s mission is to increase the procurement of real food on college and university campuses, with a national goal of 20% real food by 2020. Wilson’s signing of the Real Food Commitment will affect what food is served in the cafeterias.
Certain menu choices such as foods with high fructose corn syrup will slowly be removed from the menu since they don’t count as real food. Overall there will be an influx of healthier food and more local food in both dining locations. The other aspect of dining that may be affected will be that prep time for meals may be extended since dining services will be purchasing more raw food.
The Local Foods Crew and Local Foods supervisor Jenna Marshman will be overseeing the Real Food Commitment. Local Foods and an appointed Food Systems Working Group will be working together to enter data into the Real Food Calculator (a tool provided by the Real Food Challenge) to calculate the percentage of ‘real food’ that Wilson is serving. They will continue to enter data until and after Wilson reaches the 40% mark.
Students can become involved with the Real Food Commitment can join the Food Systems Working Group next semester. The group will meet twice a month to discuss and create plans of action for implementing both the Real Food Commitment and the Wilson Dining Policy. Students interested in joining the working group can contact local foods crew.
If however you’re not in the mood to join an action group you can still help Wilson work towards the goal of 40% real food.
“Students can support the commitment by choosing to eat local foods when they are served and labeled,” says Jenna Marshman, Local Foods supervisor.
Beyond the obvious benefits of a healthier diet, Marshman is excited for all the benefits the Real Food Commitment brings to Wilson.
“Signing the Real Food Commitment gives the school great publicity and announces that we care about the food we eat and who we support—a truly respectable motto in a time of rampant GMO products and high fructose corn syrup,” Marshman said. “Signing the Real Food Commitment labels the school as a leader in the sustainable food movement.”
Although 2020 may seem like a long way off and the goal of 40% real food may seem daunting it is clear that the process has begun. It is also clear that both dining services and the college are dedicated to the process of creating a healthier and more local menu for current and future students.