Real Food Challenge

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About the Real Food Challenge
The Real Food Challenge leverages the power of youth and post-secondary campuses to create a sustainable, socially just, humane and healthy food system.  It is has been piloting in British Columbia at 6 campuses throughout 2016, and is now open for registration in Ontario for 2017.


Amidst a sea of confusing labels, certifications and claims about sustainability and ethical purchasing, the Real Food Challenge will offer campuses a comprehensive and decisive definition for Real Food, set a high standard upheld consistently among institutions, and support users in tracking their progress.


Our Process

1. Collaborate with students to audit their campus’ Real Food purchases using our Real Food Calculator.  

The Real Food Calculator is a verification tool, administered by students in collaboration with foodservices and faculty to provide an independent audit of the campuses' Real Food purchases and to communicate the results.


2. Collaborate with campuses to make the Real Food Campus Commitment.

The Real Food Campus Commitment is made by university and college presidents who, responding to student demand, pledge to use the purchasing power of their campus to support community-based, ecologically-sound, socially-just and humane agriculture, with the goal of reaching 20% Real Food procurement by 2020.



The impact
Collectively, colleges and universities across North America spend over $5 billion per year to feed their students. By working together to shift 20% of purchasing to Real Food, we will be funnelling $1 billion into the agriculture and supply chains we need for our future.


How to get involved
Meal Exchange is working with stakeholders across the country to build the Real Food Challenge Canada. See below for how you can participate in each phase of the program.




Your interest: As a student, you drive this movement! Students in the United States have won over $50 million in Real Food purchasing commitments from their universities, and during this process, over 1,000 students have received specialized leadership training for food systems work.
Your benefit: You will receive opportunities for one-on-one coaching, connections to food leaders across the country and around the world, and resources for every step of the way including detailed toolkits, webinars, templates, and examples from leaders in the United States.
Your role: If you’re a student who is serious about getting involved, you have two options:

1. Join a Real Food Challenge Campaign 

2. Become a Real Food Researcher 


Faculty Members 

Your interest: The Real Food Challenge provides learning opportunities for your students that are relevant to the crises of today as well as the powerful solutions of tomorrow.
Your benefit: Collaborate with other campuses across North America who have, or are in the process of developing ground-breaking curriculum in food systems and applied research. 
Your role: Connect with the Real Food Challenge to develop applied research opportunities for your students that are rigorous, robustly-supported and publishable.


Food Services

Your interest: The Real Food Challenge can provide you with strong, consistent and measurable purchasing standards to respond to student demand around issues of sustainability, social justice and animal welfare.
Your benefit: Because your workload is already full, Real Food Challenge provides trained students to take on the task of measuring food purchases and telling the story of your successes.
Your role: Help students access the data needed to audit purchases, and identify sourcing barriers and opportunities.



Your interest: Applied practices of sustainability, social justice and healthy communities are becoming more significant to campus rankings and student recruitment.
Your benefit: The Real Food Challenge provides your campus with support to create its own unique policies while gaining the consistency of research-based standards that are applied across the continent and recognized through local, national and international media. 
Your role: Organizing to sign the commitment to reach 20% Real Food by 2020 - alongside campuses across Canada and the United States - and joining the Real Food Campus Committee to oversee the projects needed to meet this goal.


Farmers and Small Businesses

Your interest: As a food producer and distributor, the Real Food Challenge has been created to support the work you do. The Real Food Challenge team works to gain institutional commitment to develop new supply chain partnerships.
Your benefit: As the Real Food Challenge gains momentum across the continent, our goal is to create opportunities for new purchasing relationships to help grow good businesses.
Your role: Producers and distributors are essential stakeholders to this mutually-beneficial movement. There are many ways to be involved:

- Vend "Real Food" products to institutions. You can identify your products as Real Food by sharing your production practices, values, and/or certifications

-Grow interest in your farm or business by sharing your story

-Advise our team on special topics of expertise

-Provide feedback on the program and process




The Real Food Challenge is being developed in Canada thanks to the support of

Greenbelt Fund

Vancouver Foundation

Real Estate Foundation - British Columbia

Vancity enviroFund

Eco Canada


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