Our Common Ground: Our New Report on Campus Food Sustainability

Today Real Food Real Jobs releases a new report, Our Common Ground: Food Workers, Sustainable Food Advocates, and Institutions of Higher Education, which outlines the opportunities we see for college and university communities to create a model of campus food sustainability that will serve as an example for other large institutions across the country.

In the United States, universities combine to generate over $19 billion in food revenue per year, and they are increasingly utilizing their imprint to help usher change in the food system as a whole. It is hard to walk into a college cafeteria without seeing the impact that sustainable food advocates have had thus far. In the face of our nation’s food and health crisis, these advances are vitally important to our society.

Yet the campus workers who prepare, cook, and serve the food – locally sourced, certified organic or otherwise – have often been left behind. On average, these and other institutional food workers are paid poverty-level wages and receive scant benefits. In our work with food workers, on campus and beyond, we’ve learned that food workers are important allies in transforming our food system in part because they have so much at stake.

As documented in this report, food workers 
are among those most affected by the food crisis – frequently poorly paid and suffering food insecurity and diet-related illnesses at alarmingly high rates. For example, over 1 in 5 – or 22 percent – of workers in food preparation and serving related occupations live in food insecure households.

Can food workers, students, farmers, university administrators and the broader food movement find common ground to more adequately reform the food system? At UNITE HERE – the largest worker organization in the country representing food service workers – we believe we can, and that doing so will help create a model for food sustainability that will serve as an example for other large institutions across the country.

In this report, we share four points of common ground:

  1. Food workers want to cook again
  2. Food workers play an important role in food safety
  3. Raising food workers’ job standards addresses an important part of the food crisis
  4. Food workers share an interest in food transparency

In the coming weeks, we’ll be blogging in greater detail about each of these key points of common ground between food workers and the food movement, so stay tuned or read the full report now!

Down the full report here, and share it on Facebook and Twitter!

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