Students establish Real Food Week at Rice

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Veronica Johnson

As anyone who knows Ansley Jones (McMurtry ‘16) can tell you, she’s always eating food, talking about food, or at least thinking about food. Her love of food was one of her motivations for bringing Food Day to Rice University. As a sustainability intern for the Rice University Administrative Center for Sustainability and Energy Management (ACSEM), Jones frequently studies other universities’ sustainability efforts. One thing she has noticed is that many of Rice’s peer universities are signing the Real Food Campus Commitment, which is a pledge to buy at least 20% real food by 2020. According to David McDonald, the Senior Business Director of Rice University Housing and Dining, Rice most likely fits the criteria for the Real Food Campus Commitment, as about 30% of the food in the serveries is sourced locally, including from the Rice University Farmers Market.

With the help of Chynna Foucek (Duncan ‘16), Rice University’s Head EcoRep, and Belle Douglass (Martel ‘16), the co-president of Real Food Revolution, Jones created a week-long series of events devoted to sustainable food called Real Food Week. The week culminated with Food Day on October 24th, in conjunction with the nationwide-event Food Day 2015, which was themed “Towards a Greener Diet.” Her goals for Real Food Week were to educate the student body at Rice about the Real Food Movement, to raise awareness about Rice’s current sustainable dining initiatives, and to spark discussions on sustainable food policies at the campus, local, state, and national level.

Real Food Week consisted of the following events:

(Monday) Twitter Campaign with H&D — This campaign allowed students to direct any and all questions to the Rice Housing and Dining chefs. Students tweeted questions to @SustainableRice and received responses from the chefs.

(Tuesday) Oktoberfest at the Rice University Farmers Market This fall celebration at the market featured live music by THE HECKLERS and a cooking demonstration by Chef Roger.

(Wednesday) Film screening of “Growing Cities” Growing Cities, a documentary film that examines the role of urban farming in America, was screened for students in Duncan Hall.

(Thursday) Community garden volunteer day — Joe Novak, the professor of the Community Agriculture class at Rice, led a hands-on activity for volunteers to learn about the composting process.

(Friday) Information table in the RMC — A tabling event in the student center featured information about the Real Food Movement and Rice’s sustainable dining initiatives and a petition to ask Rice to sign the Real Food Campus Commitment.

(Saturday) Food Day Dinner and Forum — Students dined on food from Ruggles Green and discussed sustainable food practices and issues at Rice. The evening featured a panel including Head Eco-Rep Chynna Foucek; Andy Miller, President of the Rice Community Growers; Travis Kwee, the head of the Rice Environmental Club’s Committee on Food and Energy Waste; and Dr. Robin Paige, instructor for SOCI 423: Sociology of Food.

Jones observed that people often confuse the Real Food Movement with eating a vegetarian diet. She noted, “I am definitely a meat-eater, and I do not anticipate ever giving up meat. However, just because I could never be a vegetarian does not mean that I do not care about eating sustainable food; there is a lot more to the Real Food Movement than that. The Real Food Movement focuses on a variety of issues, such as eating healthy and safe diets, supporting organic farms and reforming ‘factory farms,’ and promoting fair and just treatment of farm-workers.”