Real Food Challenge for Schools
The University of Massachusetts Amherst was named number one in collegiate dining by the Princeton Review for the sixth year in a row. In addition to having great food, the university of Massachusetts tries to source its ingredients sustainably and locally. The university participates in the real food challenge. That means at least 20% of UMass food purchases must be “local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and humane food sources’”. UMass exceeded the 20% goal and incorporated about 29% real food. The goal was to spend less money on food from industrial farms and reallocate the spending on environmentally conscious options.
This was a student led initiative. The students collaborated with UMass dining to make the real food challenge possible.
Some achievements as of 2021 for UMass dining:
- Over 100 farm partners
- 100% pasture raised eggs
- 100% fair trade bananas
- 74% of produce is local, fair trade, and/or organic
- 68% of the seafood is third-party certified
- 32% of the animal protein is local, grass-fed, pasture-raised
- 29% real food
My experience: I am a student at UMass Amherst. I enjoy visiting the dining commons. UMass dining has weekly special events with unique menu options. For Halloween there was a steak and lobster night. There are many healthful options at each dining common, my favorite being Worcester Dining. I attached some pictures of meals I have enjoyed. My favorite dessert is the oat milk soft serve by Oatly™, which is a plant based ice cream.
The real food challenge is not only taking place at UMass. Other Universities such as the University of Vermont have made efforts with the challenge. To learn how you can incorporate real food into your school’s dining you can visit https://www.realfoodchallenge.org/real-food-campus-commitment/ for more info. The initiative elevates health in the community. Taking steps toward healthy, sustainable meals is essential, therefore, school districts around the country should try to improve their cafeterias.
You can also follow UMass dining on social media platforms: @umassdining
Plant Based Treat from UMass Dining
Worcester Dining Common
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