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Need Some Help Brainstorming a Food Day Event? Look No Further!

on July 25, 2011

We've decided to keep the details of Food Day events open to the creativity and needs of each student group and campus. While this means some of our Campus Coordinators are having a hard time narrowing down 6 events to 1, others don't know where to start. If the latter is how you feel, no worries - we've got some ideas for you!


Questions to ask yourself before thinking about planning a Food Day event:

       1. What is the most pressing issue concerning real food on my campus?

       2. What is the most logical, but fun, way to address this?

       3. What is the best way to engage a wide variety and amount of students?

           How do students typically respond to events held on campus?


Here are a couple event ideas to get your mind rolling! If you like one of them make sure to adapt it and make it unique to your campus. The most creative events result in the biggest impact! 

(A quick note: These ideas are taken directly from the Guide for Campus Coordinators. When you sign up we'll send you the link to download!)


1. Food Day Debates or Panel Discussions
Bring together multiple, diverse perspectives for the whole day or just an evening session to educate your school about the food system. For example, invite a professor, a local farmer, a restaurant owner, and a local elected official to all sit on a panel and speak about local food initiatives. Great topics for debate are: farm subsidies, junk food on campus, providing food aid to developing nations, and elimination of food deserts in America.
Whoever your speakers are, make sure to have a dynamic moderator who can keep panelists on time and engage the audience in an active Q&A and discussion portion.

2. Real Food Cook-Off
Create your own “iron chef ” challenge on campus, recruiting local farmers, chefs, and university members to participate. Or hand-select the best chefs from your favorite local restaurants to compete against each other! Put together a basket of seasonal goodies that the chefs will be able to cook with and then decide on a mystery ingredient for competitors to feature in their dishes. This could be a unique or seasonal item, such as quinoa, okra, or turnips. Organize a panel of judges and, presto, you’ve got a cook-off! Spice up the event with some music and a lively MC.

3. Food-Themed Movie Screening
Screen your favorite food movies on campus to highlight issues in our food system and present sustainable alternatives. Use RFC’s resources or visit for more ideas. Facilitate a discussion after the film, or even raise money for farmworkers or a local cause at the event. Make sure movie-goers take action by signing a petition on the issues you are raising awareness around.
Screen multiple movies, and provide healthy, locally-sourced snacks, and you’ve got a festival!

4. Harvest Festival
Start the tradition of pairing Food Day with a campus Harvest Festival. Work with your foodservice provider to prepare a special delicious, healthy, locally-sourced meal in one cafeteria. Invite local chefs and farmers to participate and share in the meal. Hope for good weather and hold a festival outside—complete with farm stands, some farm animals to pet, informational booths, and games (cider-pong tournament, anyone?). Collect prizes from local restaurants and cafes, such as coupons for a free meal, to use for raffles, games, and activities. Recruit other student and community groups to table at the event.

5. Campus Vegetable Garden
A college garden is a powerful place. In a garden, you dig and plant and talk about the value of food. You learn how to grow food and make decisions for yourselves. Use the RFC Garden Guide to get started. Even if you can’t plant in October, you can launch a plan for the next planting season.

6. Campus Food Policy Assessment
In need of a great student research project for an individual or group? Conduct an assessment of your college’s food policy. Start by filling out RFC's Campus Food Baseline Assesment. Next, focus on the sourcing and healthfulness of cafeteria foods and vended foods on campus; whether there is support for local farmers and whether vegetable gardens exist on campus; the availability of CSAs for students, faculty, and staff; and course offerings on  nutrition, health, and sustainability topics. Release your findings on Food Day. The report could even be the topic of a debate or panel discussion!


If these ideas look interesting for your campus-sign up for Food Day if you haven't already! Or, if you think your event idea should be added to the list contact Tricia, the Food Day Campus Coordinator at!