We can use food to heal, and there are so many hopeful students in college that are working to do just that. Whether it’s starting something new, interning with a local farm, campaigning and more, students are on the move. They are not alone, either. There are organizations springing up everywhere that are dedicated to empowering these new food system leaders. There has never been a better time to get started in making a difference as a student. Let’s take a look at some of these ways to get involved.
Colleges, universities, and their contracted food service providers (unless they are self-service schools) collectively purchase billions of dollars’ worth of food and beverages each year. This represents an amazing chance to shift this money to more sustainable food choices and push the food service providers to offer more of these options to their other customers, as well. The Real Food Challenge is an organization dedicated to empowering students to do just that. It works with student leaders to train them to organize, campaign and work constructively with their campus administration and food service providers. RFC developed a great tool called the Real Food Calculator to help judge which items can be counted as ‘real food’ and encourages these higher educational institutions to make a commitment to allocating 20 percent of their budget to these items.
Cooperatives come in many forms. At their core they are about fostering community and collective ownership. What better way is there to do that than with food? Grocery retail, food buying clubs, community gardening and kitchens, farmers markets, and more ventures that follow collective ownership structures are popping up all around the country. CoFED or the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive is an organization that works with students around the country to start food cooperatives by coaching these future leaders, networking them with successful student ventures, and providing some great resources in the process.
Courses & Degree Programs
Students have become so interested in doing good deeds with food that there are not only courses you can take in college, but rather whole degree programs devoted to making our food system more sustainable. AASHE or the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, maintains a listing of 83 current degree programs and growing that are focused on sustainable food and agriculture.
With many of these degree programs come a call to action to engage with your local food system. Students have an unmistakable energy for changing the world and volunteer with some great causes, one of which is the Food Recovery Network. This is an organization that works with students to gather excess food from dining halls on campus to donate to local food banks that feed those in need.
Grassroots Organizing & Campaigning
Speaking of this energy, students also spend it advocating for great causes. Many start groups on campus that advocate for more compassion in our food system. In addition to these organizations above and others, PETA has a large presence on many college campuses. They give student leaders the tools they need to spread awareness about the treatment of animals in our food system.
Do you know of specific college student or groups who are working to change the food system? Comment below!
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