On May 6, Mark Roosevelt, College staff and student representatives signed the Real Food Challenge during Community Meeting. The Real Food Challenge (RFC) leverages the power of youth and universities to create a healthy, fair and green food system. The RFC's primary goal is to shift $1 billion of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms and junk food and towards local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources—what they call “real food”—by 2020.
In signing the Real Food Challenge, Antioch College pledged to serve 60% real food by 2020. It is not just about declaring that the College recognizes the importance of ethically sourced food, but also involves setting and actively working toward goals. At present, the College uses 56% real food. Antioch College is recognized as second in the nation for real food consumption.
In celebrating this achievement, it’s important to recognize the students and staff whose hard work made it possible. Sara Brooks ’15 in particular has had a significant role in developing ethical and sustainable food services. When she arrived at Antioch as a member of the first class since re-opening, the residence halls were ready, but nothing was in place as far as food services; renovations to the Birch kitchen weren’t complete for the first few weeks. Sara was joined by Ohio native Isaac Delamatre, food service coordinator, one week after she started. This year, Sara and Isaac initiated the intensive process of applying to participate in the Real Food Challenge.
Under Isaac’s leadership, the Antioch Kitchen’s choices and efforts have been deliberate and judicious from the beginning. They started with ensuring that their employees were treated right. Their philosophy was: happy cooks, good food. Now the Kitchens employ six full-time cooks that enjoy health benefits and retirement plans. They also offer 30 students per-term jobs as kitchen assistants and dishwashers to give students a way to earn money and contribute to their community.
The Antioch Kitchen’s goal has been to remove the College from the industrial kitchen model used at many colleges. To that end, most food is prepared from scratch on-site, 28% of the produce served is raised on the Antioch Farm, and when they must source food from large distributors, they buy organic whenever possible.
In true Antiochian fashion, Sara and Isaac took their experience and knowledge out of the kitchen and into the classroom this quarter. They were guest lecturers for the Global Seminar: Food where they spoke to 60 students about sustainable food.
“You have to make some choices. But when you buy into the system, you get a voice,” says Isaac. “We buy local because it’s more sustainable, but you can run into issues. Sara and I found out that that one of our meat suppliers wanted to use prison labor for their packing. And because we established a relationship with them early on, we were able to keep him from going through with it. That’s why we make a point to get to know the people who produce our food and value them.”
To learn more about the real food challenge visit http://www.realfoodchallenge.org/.