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UPDATE: The Real Food Challenge, A 2011 DoSomething Awards Finalist

UPDATE: The Real Food Challenge, A 2011 DoSomething Awards Finalist

 

When David Schwartz, co-founder of the Real Food Challenge recently contacted me to let me know that he’d been named a finalist for the 2011 DoSomething Awards, I thought it would be worth giving him a second look.  I wrote about the Real Food Challenge in January, and it’s exciting to see small, ambitious upstarts with real, sustainable ideas for change as they take root and begin to burgeon. DoSomething, a non-profit that encourages young people 25 and under to engage in social change, will grant the winner with $100,000 for his or her cause on August 18th during the DoSomething Awards broadcast on VH1.

The Real Food Challenge aims to shift  20% — or about $1 billion — of college and university food purchases to local, sustainable, humane and fair trade sources by the year 2020. American colleges and universities spend about $4.7 billion in on dining each year — so that’s a lot of purchasing power.

Schwartz and his co-founder Anim Steel, are challenging students to harness that power and redirect it to real food — food that’s ethically produced and sustainable, local, fair trade, and organic. Some 4,000 students at 300 schools across the country have already signed on.

“To date we’ve gotten $35 million of annual university food committed to purchasing to local, sustainable and fair food,” Schwartz  told me in his update.

When I originally asked Schwartz why he decided to focus on college campuses, he spoke  from experience. “I was one of those students myself. I was an undergraduate as we were starting the Real Food Challenge,” he said.

“For anyone who is worried about what’s going on with our food system, it’s hard not to be compelled when you’re looking at diabetes, obesity and diet-related disease skyrocketing and especially prevalent in low income communities and communities of color, when you look at the loss of farmland and the consolidation of farms. There’s a consciousness on college campuses around these issues,” said Schwartz, who graduated from Brown University in 2009 and now travels the country training students and expanding the Real Food Challenge’s student network.

“In 2010-2011 school year we trained over 1,600 in how to take action for real food on their campus and in their community.” Schwartz also recently told me.

Also new: the Real Food Challenge is helping launch the first ever Food Day on October 24th, 2011. Sixty campuses have signed on in the last 3 weeks. They’re also launching their new GET REAL! Campaign this Fall — an effort to get every college and university president in the country to commit to real food — via a special network top student activists through their Grassroots Leaders Project.

“The power we have as students is profound. We’re not just learners, we’re engaged citizens and leaders,” Schwartz believes. “We can be so much more powerful if we act together, if we have a common language, a common platform.”

Take a look at the Real Food Challenge’s new video to see what the organization has been up to:

Related Reading:

How DoSomething Engages Young People (VIDEO)

The Real Food Challenge: How To Effect Social Change By Harnessing The Power Of Students

Planting Seeds Of Hope And Community

 

Read more: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Photo courtesy of The Real Food Challenge

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25 comments

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5:13AM PDT on Aug 11, 2011

Thanks for the article.

1:04AM PDT on Aug 2, 2011

Goosebumps! This is awesome!

9:01PM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

This sounds like a great project with real impact!

7:55AM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

Bravo Mr.Schwartz and the Real Food Challenge. All the best!

5:25AM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

My local university has started a "community garden" to provide food for students living in residence.

1:31AM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

How about this for a challenge.....LESS PEOPLE?????

2:07AM PDT on Jul 31, 2011

interesting....good

10:35PM PDT on Jul 30, 2011

Great idea and great follow-through!

9:30PM PDT on Jul 30, 2011

'Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.'
~Albert Einstein

8:58AM PDT on Jul 30, 2011

It is a sad FACT of our times that while US children worry about Obesity, their counterparts are dying of starvation.

Fact: that America has spent $7 Trillion (source: washington post) on three wars looking for the phantom weapons of mass destruction and destroying some phantom terrorists.

7 TRillion!!! Enough money, analysts say, to eradicate world hunger, eradicate most diseases, replant and replenish forests, save thousands of endangered species, switch the entire world to renewable energy, make impossible leaps in science and technology related progress. Enough money to reconstruct and reshape the world. So what did America get for 7 Trillion? Debt crisis, budget cuts, medicare slashed, social security slashed, government shut down and more taxes.

Fact: that the world can currently produce enough to feed three times the current population.

Fact: also that America dumps tons of vegitables (mostly potatoes) in the Ocean annually and various other countries including the US pay the farmers grants in compensation to have them grow less. Why? Because some fat cats hold commodities stocks in the market. If the supply of commodities rose due to farming, their stocks would plumet.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Lindsay Spangler Lindsay Spangler is a Web Editor and Producer for Care2 Causes. A recent UCLA graduate, she lives in... more
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