Food on campus has long been a contentious issue. From the expensive meal plans to the vegan options to the quality of the hamburger meat, students have been bickering about the food in the UC for a long time.  I don’t need to write a “Do It Yourself” column concerning how to whine about food options in the dining hall, since all of us (myself included) are already proficient at that. Instead, I’d like to write this article on what can be done to work for change in the food system on campus.

Many Pacific students are passionate advocates for food justice. Whether it’s getting more local options in the Bistro, tastier gluten-free meals in the UC, or encouraging the donation of excess food to local shelters, students (and faculty, and administration) are working hard to get better food for everyone. It’s time to transform all that negative energy from whining into action and join forces with the people who are making change.

Read the list below and if one of the statements sounds like something you’ve said, consider taking action.

1.“The food here sucks!” Bethany Bigelow, the director of dining services, holds monthly Food Forums for Pacific students.  The Forums are usually at 5 p.m. in the Alumni Room, on varying days of the week.  There is always a free meal provided and it tends to be Aramark’s finest food.  Bigelow or one of her staff is always present to hear complaints, take recipe suggestions and provide information about anything related to dining on campus.  This is a resource that more students should take advantage of. To learn more, or register for the next Food Forum, contact intern Tabitha Rodgers at rodgers-tabitha@aramark.com.

2.“I wish they’d compost on campus.” A group of students, backed by staff, are working to get composting integrated into the dorm halls. Burlingham Hall already has a pilot program for compost and other dorm halls may be next. For more information on composting in the residence halls, contact folks from the Residence Housing Association.

3. “What happens to all the leftovers from catering events?” In conjunction with the Center for Civic Engagement, students and staff have been working on a Food Rescue program with Aramark.  Because of the people and passion behind Food Rescue, hundreds of pounds of food have been donated to local nonprofits. This food, that would otherwise be thrown in the trash, has supplied valuable calories to our community’s most hungry people. At your next Aramark catered event, be sure to request that the leftovers be donated to the Food Rescue program. For more information, or to get involved as a volunteer, contact Kaely Summers at the Center for Civic Engagement:  kaely@pacificu.edu.

4.“These meal plans are so expensive!” Yes, they are. As freshman and sophomores, we are required to pay $2,282 every semester for a meal plan. If we’re worried about the cost, though, we need to do more than just complain. Attend an Aramark Food Forum and get involved. If we’re going to pay this much, we should have a say in what we’re getting.

5.“I want more REAL food in the UC.” Join the Real Food Club on campus! It is a student-run organization that advocates for more local, organic, fairly-traded and humanely-raised food products in the dining hall. They’re part of a growing nationwide movement called “Real Food Challenge.” Contact leader Julia Naumes to ask how you can help: naum1491@pacificu.edu.

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