College campuses and universities all over the nation are redefining what and how they eat. In the Winter 2008 edition of the Earth Island Journal, the feature article showcased how students and administrators are working collaboratively towards sustainability issues.
"Schools including Carleton College, University of Northern Iowa, and Bowdoin College are mounting local food initiatives. Sodexho and Aramark, the largest providers of campus dining services in the US, estimate that organic food is available on about half the campuses they serve." In particular, Aramark "has begun to build freezer facilities for some local farms to store produce for the fall semester" since campuses are generally out of season.
Sodexho uses local maple syrup and buys about $30,000 of Vermont dairy products per semester for the University of Vermont.
The University of Massachursetts at Amherst is involved with Seafood Watch, a program of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.
Various colleges have redefined food procurement and waste, whether it may be growing their own organic gardens or instituting bring-your-own-bowl programs. "Middlebury College's composting gram has diverted 75% of campus food waste into composting operations". Its saved the college $100,000, and the compost is used for the college's grounds or given to the campus gardens.
I was introduced to the "Real Food Challenge", which is "is a national campaign that unites and empowers students and their allies to create a food system that truly nourishes people, communities, and the earth." "The central goal is to re-direct at least 20% of all the food purchased by colleges and universities (currently 4 billion dollars) toward real food within 10 years." There is a much larger network than imagined.
Can this happen at UC Irvine? I'm optimistic.