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Real Food Challenge Takes Root At UK

Note: Morgan Miller, University of Kentucky College of Communication senior, serves as Savoring Kentucky's fall 2015 intern. This is her debut blog post for Savoring Kentucky.

On the first Thursday of October, a small group of people met to discuss the possibility of bringing Real Food Challenge (RFC) to the University of Kentucky.  After some collaborating, it became evident we had one thing in common: a desire to give people equitable, quality food.

Real Food Challenge is a national student-led movement focused on “uniting students for just and sustainable food.” Katie LeBlanc, the new RFC Regional Coordinator, was in attendance. We were fortunate to have an individual so passionate and dedicated to the cause there offering us her insight and knowledge.  

The primary campaign for RFC is to “shift $1 billion of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms and junk food and towards local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources.”

Given the University of Kentucky’s new contract with Aramark, the subject of local food procurement on campus is a touchy one. From the RFC standpoint, local food definition is  “a food system--from seed to plate--that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, animal welfare, social justice and environmental sustainability.” This definition is is much more considerate of producers, consumers, communities and the Earth than the Aramark/UK Dining definition of local food.

Upon the signing of the UK-Aramark contract, University of Kentucky’s president Eli Capiluto released a statement saying “Agriculture is a way of life in Kentucky.”  This belief is the very principle on which our university was founded. As a leading institution, shouldn’t our actions reflect those fundamental truths?

President Capiluto’s statement reflects the same values, goals, and objectives of Real Food Challenge. By bringing RFC to the University’s campus, it is our intention to unite students passionate about different causes, whether it’s for human rights, animal rights, or environmental rights, putting them in a place where their voices can be heard. It’s about making those very principles the University of Kentucky’s foundation once again. I strongly feel that in order to live healthier, kinder, and more thoughtful lifestyles these changes must be made and RFC is the way to achieve them.   

Here’s to taking the next step and learning more about Real Food Challenge!

Photographs by Morgan Miller.

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