Lunch at university cafeterias across the country just became more appealing, thanks to the efforts of the Real Food Challenge, a national, student-led movement for food justice.
In response to student demands that their mashed potatoes be organic, their bananas fair trade, and their scrambled eggs cage-free, one of the leading companies supplying food to universities, Sodexo, recently signed a transparency agreement with the Real Food Challenge. The agreement helps university food become more local, just, and sustainable by implementing rigorous standards, making information more accessible, and encouraging collaboration.
A tool called the Real Food Calculator sets the standards. Developed by Real Food Challenge students and food experts, it enables universities to judge the social responsibility and sustainability of Sodexo’s food vendors and producers. Food realness is based on four criteria: local and community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and humane.
The agreement also established a process for students to collaborate with Sodexo on collecting and analyzing purchasing data using the Real Food Calculator. The resulting data can help students assess how much real food their universities purchase and help reveal opportunities for increasing real food options.