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Real Food Challenge

An introduction to an organization working to get more good food into universities by training students about the food system. Also: Real Food Calculator, three brief case studies.

October 21, 2010: Real Food into University Cafeterias: a Billion Dollar Challenge


The Real Food Challenge unites students for just and sustainable food. Harnessing the power of university purchasing budgets, RFC leaders across the country are working with universities and food service companies to shift $1 billion of existing purchases to "real food" by 2020 and are setting new standards for transparency and accountability.  By convening, connecting, training and supporting young leaders, the RFC is growing a youth movement for food justice.  In just a few short years, students on over 350 campuses have connected to the RFC network, while 17 universities have "taken the challenge" and committed over $30 million toward their "real food" spending goal.

In this webinar you will learn the history and evolution of the RFC,  the dramatic impact this young organization has already had, as well as how universities are creating innovation and collaboration with students on creating sustainable food services. The presentation will introduce you to the Real Food Calculator, a tool created by RFC, which provides in-depth definitions of "real food" and a tracking system for institutional purchasing. You will hear from two co-founders of the Real Food Challenge as well as three different and inspiring stories of major purchasing changes – presented by a student, UCSB's Assistant Dining director and Pacific Northwest President for NACUFS, and an alumna who has gone on to pursue food system work after graduation.



Archived Recording




Download the slides for this presentation (pdf)


Presenter Bios

Tim Galarneau, National Coordinating Team Member, RFC

Tim is a past Roots of Change Fellow who works as an education and research program specialist on social issues for the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) focusing on farm to institution, community food systems, and student education and empowerment.  He also serves as an advisor to campus farm to college efforts as a Board member for the California Student Sustainability Coalition and Advisory Committee member yp the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.  In addition, Tim is a co-founder and serves on the national coordinating committee of the Real Food Challenge that is working to shift over $1 billion in annual food procurement and consumption in colleges and universities in the United States by 2020 toward greater sustainability.  Most recently, Tim co-chairs the Central Coast School Food Alliance which is working regionally across three counties to increase good food access for innovative school breakfast, lunch, and snack programs in over 25 school districts in California.

David Schwartz, National Coordinating Team Member, RFC

David is a current staff member of the Real Food Challenge, working primarily on training, student education and campaign development. He began his food work in high school with The Food Project, where he filled a variety of roles from diversity trainer to urban agriculture intern, and also served 2 years on The Food Project’s Board of Trustees.

David graduated in 2009 from Brown University with a major in the History of Food, Agriculture, and Environmentalism. At Brown, he founded a garden-based education program and worked with Brown dining services to craft a $1.3 million real food
purchasing program. David has worked with the Real Food Challenge since its founding and has planned numerous regional summits and trainings. While at Brown, David was awarded a CV Starr Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship and
Brown Student Leadership Citation for Innovative Thinking in 2008. He is also a 2010 Echoing Green Fellow with Anim Steel.

Kate Turcotte, University of Vermont

Kate Turcotte is a recent graduate of the University of Vermont where she studied Ecological Agriculture and Food Systems. She became interested in university food system change when she was working on the student farm and put together a proposal to sell produce to their dining hall. After this she worked for University Dining Services (Sodexo) for two years to help initiate and strengthen their partnerships with the student farm and other groups such as the Campus Kitchens Project and UVM's Slow Food chapter. She currently works for UVM Continuing Education to coordinate their programs in sustainable food systems and agriculture and is in her fourth season as a cheddar cheesemaker at Shelburne Farms.

Bonnie Crouse, UC Santa Barbara Dining Services & President of the Northwest Region of NACUFS

Bonnie Crouse is the Assistant Director of Residential Dining Services at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). With a degree in Foods and Nutrition - she has been a member of the University’s dining management team for over 32 years and is currently director of Dining Services’ Business Office. She has primary responsibility over a broad set of initiatives including: equipment and construction projects, financial management, procurement of food, production systems, dining services’ technology and software systems, quality control of campus dining facilities and wellness and sustainability policies and implementation. The scope includes 4 resident dining commons serving 4700 students, Concessions for athletic events, Special Events Catering and summer conference feeding serving 2.2 million meals annually with a capital budget of $16 million and a food budget of $5.5 million. She is the Dining liaison to UCSB Purchasing and the University of CA Office of the President for all procurement issues.

She serves as Food co-chair on the UCSB Campus wide Sustainability committee, chair of the Santa Barbara Sustainability Community Group, founder of the Dining Sustainability Strategic Plan and UCSB representative on the University of California system wide committees for Sustainable Foods and Strategic Sourcing.

Very involved in the premier association for college food service operations, Bonnie is currently serving as the Pacific Region’s President for the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) and serves on the National Board of Directors. She was instrumental in assuring her department received the CA Higher Education Sustainable Food Best Practices award in 2010.

Sue Deblieck, RFC Alumna & Maine Farm to School, Healthy Acadia Initiative

Sue DeBlieck is a local food consultant in Ames, Iowa.  She has worked on Farm to Cafeteria projects for the past three years.  As a student in the Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture she helped initiate the Farm to ISU program at Iowa State University.  She most recently coordinated the Downeast Farm to School program in Maine.  Throughout that time, DeBlieck has been involved with the Real Food Challenge as the first Midwest Field Organizer and is now part of the organization's Steering Committee and Alumni Network. 


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