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Antioch College Takes Real Food Challenge

This week, Antioch College President Mark Roosevelt, along with staff and student representatives signed the Real Food Campus Commitment. This student-driven agreement amplifies Antioch’s commitment to improving our nation’s food system to prevent adverse ecological, health and social outcomes.

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.

Antioch College is fast becoming a national model in terms of ways that institutions of higher learning can support ecologically sustainable, humane and socially equitable food systems. From the Antioch Farms to the Antioch Kitchens, the College strives to deliver real food to students, faculty, and staff. Antioch College is second in the nation in real food consumption at 56%. Only Sterling College in Craftsbury, Vt. consumes a higher percentage of real food at 74%.

“Antioch College has a long history of being thoughtful about our impact on the environment including how the food we eat affects the world around us,” said Antioch College President Mark Roosevelt. “The re-created Antioch is no different. We are fully committed to delivering real food to our students, faculty, staff and community. By signing the challenge we redouble our efforts to win victories for humanity through food systems.”

“Participation in the RFC allows the College to be involved in the ongoing national conversation about food sustainability,” said Antioch Kitchens food service coordinator Isaac DeLamatre. “While we continually seek to investigate and develop our own solutions, given the circumstances of our community, we are pleased and honored to be a part of this growing network of activists.”

Sara Brooks, a member of the class of 2015 and a driving force behind the signing said, “The signing of the Real Food Campus Commitment solidifies Antioch's institutional dedication to sustainable and ethically produced food. The commitment states that the dining services program is participating in the Real Food Challenge program and that we are dedicated to having 60% real food by 2020. The signing of the commitment is recognition of the hard work of the entire dining services crew and Antioch as a whole, but especially the kitchen staff, and the people at local farms growing the food, who work very hard and are dedicated to seeing Antioch and its students succeed.”

Through the Real Food Campus Challenge Antioch College will:

  • Commit to serving over 60% Real Food by 2020;
  • Purchase more local foods, buy only single or direct source coffee, and continue the development of the campus farm;
  • Institutionalize a Real Food Calculator to be run by the College’s assistant food service coordinator, a paid, student position;
  • Establish a Food Systems Working Group—in Antioch’s case, an already established group called the Antioch College Food Committee (ACFC). This committee has open membership, and is facilitated by the assistant food service coordinator. Members include kitchen staff, students, faculty and general Antioch staff, as well as community members from Yellow Springs who are engaged with food issues and activism;
  • The ACFC commits to continually developing educational programming along with supporting community initiatives such as establishing EBT payment at local farmers markets. The ACFC will also continually support the Antioch Farm, and small and local farms in and around southwest Ohio.

The Antioch Farm is a living, learning laboratory for students and a place that makes Antioch more sustainable. Located on campus, students participate in all aspects of the Farm from planning to planting to eating. For example, as part of their coursework, students may take soil samples in environmental science classes, make maple syrup in the Global Seminar on Food, or observing chicken behavior in psychology classes.

The Farm, started in 2011, includes an annual growing area, pasture for animal grazing, a food forest and a hoop house. The Antioch Farm models and practices a variety of sustainability-focused growing methods such as organic and permaculture. All food grown on the Antioch Farm, including fresh produce, eggs, pastured lamb, and culinary and tea herbs, is served in the dining halls. While the average meal travels 1,500 miles to reach the table, food from the Antioch Farm travels 1,500 feet to the College’s kitchens.

Antioch Kitchens provide quality meals and service to the Antioch community. The Kitchens seek to support and engage the scholastic and life experience of our community by providing quality meals of integrity, creating an environment of experiential learning and providing attentive, caring service. The Kitchens support the ideals of Antioch College by being mindful of their products, the people that produce them and the way in which they are produced.

For more information on the Real Food Challenge visit www.realfoodchallenge.org.