Over the years there has been a rise in advocacy in regards to food at Chatham. From the success of the Masters in Food Studies to the creation of the Naturality Club, Chatham students have become very interested in what they are putting into their mouths.
This year, junior Mayann Fix created a Chatham chapter of the Real Food Challenge. The Real Food Challenge (RFC) is an organization that is campaigning to move colleges and universities food services away from factory farms. These types of farms operate on a for-profit basis, often at the expense of the animals. The RFC wants to push educational institutions towards food that is local and/or community based, ecologically sound, and humane. Food that carries these characteristics is referred to as “Real Food.”
Chatham’s dining services has previously committed them to providing the student body with locally grown foods. This was previously seen during the 2014-2015 school year where Eden Hall Tomatoes were available at the sandwich and salad bar. However, with all the progress the dining services have accomplished, Fix still believed more needed to be done to improve the quality of food on campus.
Fix first became interested in the Real Food Challenge after sitting in a RFC meeting at the University of Pittsburgh.
“[At these meetings] I began to learn more and more [about] how our food systems needs to change for the better. I saw Chatham as an awesome opportunity to start that change because one of our pillars is a commitment to sustainability,” she said.
Fix spoke at the World Food Day Dinner on Friday, October 16, in Mellon Board Room. She informed her listeners about how simple snacks consumed in the western world can be regarded as a luxury in other countries.
In some places where cocoa beans are grown, the people [who] are responsible for the planting and harvesting of cocoa beans may have never tasted chocolate because it is regarded as a luxury product,” said Fix. “One of the goals of the Real Food Challenge is to only acquire foods which pay their workers a fair wage and offer safe working conditions.”
The Real Challenge has been readily accepted in the Chatham Community with undergraduates and graduate students supporting the cause. Fix is also working closely with Anderson Dining Hall Manager Rob Coyne along with the sustainability faculty.
“We need more, always, so pledging your support is a great way to help,” Fix said.
Chatham RFC is currently working on hosting monthly Real Food Days in Anderson where local, fair trade, humane, and ecologically-sound foods are showcased. Fix hopes that this event series will excite the campus community about sustainable foods.
There are many ways for students to get involved in the Chatham RFC initiative. Meetings are held on Thursdays at 8 p.m. in Falk 216. More events are scheduled for later in the year, and help is needed to plan the activities, along with individuals to partake in the event. Check out the RFC on Facebook by searching Real Food Challenge @ Chatham. For more information about getting involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.