My name is Claire Kelloway, and I am a sophomore at Carleton College and one of the co-presidents of Food Truth, a food justice group on campus. We work alongside the Carleton Food Alliance, which is an organization coordinated by the CCCE (Center for Community and Civic Engagement) that raises food awareness at Carleton and in the Northfield community.
This past weekend, I attended the Real Food Challenge National Summit in the Twin Cities. Real Food Challenge is a national group that helps students around the country organize to reform our broken food system by bringing more humane, fair, ecologically sound, and local food into campus dining halls. As large food providers start promoting truly nourishing food, students create real institutional change; as a collective, the Real Food Challenge aims to transfer a billion dollars towards real food by 2020.
The Real Food Rising Summit, which took place from October 11th-14th, was both an amazing way to meet like-minded students from across the nation and a powerful learning experience. We attended workshops that explained our place in the corporate food system, exposed instances of power and oppression, explored the values of popular education, and elaborated on tricks and tips for student organizing and meeting with “big shots.” But the highlight of the summit was probably the Food Justice Panel, which featured four prominent leaders in the real food movement. Gerargo Reyes from the coalition of Immokalee Workers spoke about his organization, a group that has brought improved wages and working conditions to modern-day slave laborers in Florida tomato fields, and Atina Diffley, an early food activist and author of an award-winning memoir on organic farming also talked about her experience. The whole weekend was enlightening, rejuvenating and inspirational; it was a great reaffirmation of why I became involved in Food Truth as a freshman last year.
I’m passionate about making change in the food system because I believe access to healthy and sustainable food is a right, not a privilege. It is our right to have food that nourishes our bodies and our planet, just as it is our right to know how it got to us, who grew it, and how those processes affected others’ lives - and our environment! Unfortunately, many people are unaware of what goes into their food and are not disturbed by the exploitation that led to their low prices. Furthermore, many communities in the U.S. don’t even have access to fresh local foods, which takes peoples’ health out of their own hands. The participation and enthusiasm at the Real Food Challenge Summit reminded me that we all do have the power to change their communities - and I cannot wait to continue working with Food Truth to improve our food system!
If you’re interested in learning more about Real Food Challenge, check out their website (http://www.realfoodchallenge.org) or read about the Carleton Food Alliance here (https://apps.carleton.edu/food/)!