University of Minnesota student groups are working to get the school to agree to spend more on sustainable and fair-trade food in the next five years.
U Students Like Good Food and the University’s chapter of Real Food Challenge are spearheading a campaign with the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council to encourage the University to agree to pursue Real Food Challenge’s nationwide goal — to have 20 percent of colleges’ budgets for dining hall food go toward local and ecologically friendly food by the year 2020.
More than 1,500 people signed a petition in the last year to convince the University to sign on to the goal, and 10 student groups at the school have also given their endorsement.
Even in the 17th Avenue residence hall’s Fresh Food Company dining hall, just 7 percent of the food qualified as “real food” in September 2013, according to student-conducted research. According to a Real Food Challenge volunteer organizer, “real food” doesn’t just have to be local — it can also be environmentally friendly and prepared fairly and humanely.
The University’s contracted dining services provider, Aramark, has consistently not responded to inquiries from U Students Like Good Food.
We are excited that these student groups are pushing the University to improve the sourcing of its food. We are also disappointed that Aramark has not been more available to speak with students. It is clear that there is great interest in local and sustainable sources of food, and we urge the University to carefully consider this campaign.