Skip directly to content

2011 Real Food Awards Finalists

Introducing...The 2011 Real Food Awards Finalists

The Real Food Awards shine a spotlight on the people who represent the best of college food.
Students sent in nearly 100 nominations of real food leaders, and the RFC A-Team selected 19 finalists in five categories.

Student Group or Activist

Chosen for demonstrating a commitment to changing their campus food system through a real food campaign. Winner receives a cash prize.

University of Missouri, Columbia
Creating a Coalition
A love for food, sustainability, and community has gotten Monica hooked into leading the food movement at the University of Missouri. Since her freshman year at Mizzou, Monica has invested her time and energy into creating a coalition of students, administrators, campus dining workers, wellness specialists and community members with the common goal of providing and educating students about "real food." After hosting the Real Food Road-trip at Mizzou earlier this year, Monica organized a group of excited students to pursue projects on campus to push for real food. Within the next year, the Mizzou Food Coalition will collaborate with Campus Dining Services to source more local food, promote a trayless campaign, work with the Wellness Resource Center to provide weekly information sessions about food choices, preparation, and sourcing to students and faculty, host film screenings that will empower more students to take ownership of their campus food system, and create a community among like-minded people through bi-weekly cooking sessions and family-style dinners. Monica's hard work is bringing many people's dream of a wholesome food community on campus into a reality.
Monica’s Inspiration: Sustainable farmers. Without their dedication to growing food sustainably all of our work as advocates would be for naught. They work the hardest and are the most integral part of this movement.

Students Working for an Agricultural Revolutionary Movement (SWARM)
Goldsboro, NC
A Healthier Future
Kebreeya works with a Wayne County youth group called Students Working for an Agricultural Revolutionary Movement (SWARM), based in Goldsboro, NC. Through her work with SWARM, Kebreeya helps farmers with their gardening work, leads meetings about healthy eating habits, and organizes workshops on recognizing systems of oppression. She is a teenager who has a passion for knowing where food comes from and how to grow food. Coming from a family with a history of diet related diseases, Kebreeya is driven by a desire for a healthier future for herself, her family, and her community. In her own words, “I believe everyone has a right to good, local, affordable, and sustainable food and I will do my very best to make sure everyone gets what they deserve.”
Kebreeya’s Advice: Keep pushing for what you believe in. Don't be the follower. Be a leader, and if the work you do is good, others will follow. Just have courage, faith, and patience to do what you want to do.

University of Wisconsin, Madison
Going Slow, Fast
Slow Food UW has become one of the largest and fastest growing University chapters of Slow Food. In addition to organizing monthly dinners featuring locally sourced food with over 100 people in attendance, Slow Food UW has opened a Slow Food Café, and supported farm to University interns who work to make a strong and lasting partnership between local farmers and the school cafeterias.

Slow Food UW’s Advice: Be three things: realistic, specific, and positive.


University of Massachusetts Amherst
Permaculture Pioneers
The UMass Amherst Permaculture Committee is a group of twelve passionate students leading the local, sustainable food movement at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst since September, 2010. The committee has a three-tiered organizational plan: campus education about local food issues, integrating the local community, and marketing their replicable garden process through a documentary video and media outreach. Located on a 1/4-acre plot adjacent to one of the campus' four dining commons, the UMass Permaculture Garden is one of the first student-led permaculture gardens on a public university campus in the nation. The site, formerly a grass lawn, was converted into a thriving, abundant, food oasis in less than a year. The UMass Amherst Permaculture Committee serves as a reminder of what one big idea, a lot of recycled newspaper, cardboard, and food waste, and a dedicated student group can accomplish in an ongoing effort to make our Earth a more sustainable, and healthier, place to live.

Denver Fair Food
University of Colorado, Denver
Impact at the Intersection
Over the past year Luisa has made a remarkable impact on her community's relationship to the food system. She has accomplished this through energetic, sociable organizing that is grounded in principled commitment to fighting for real food at its intersections with race, class, gender, and sexuality. Locally she has elevated the Denver Fair Food Committee to a new level, organizing numerous well-attended, high energy actions at the corporate headquarter of Quizno's Subs. Regionally, fellow students across the Southwest and Mid-West were able to further their real food praxis on account of Luisa's invaluable contributions to hosting the No Coast Encuentro, a gathering of Fair Food activists that took place in Denver in October of 2010. Nationally, she became a member of the Student/Farmworker Alliance Steering Committee in 2011, playing an active role in mobilizing for the Coalition of Immokalee Worker's Do the Right Thing tour, which started in Boston and concluded with a 2,000 person march in Tampa. With her razor-sharp creativity and rock-solid determination, Luisa has lifted the food justice movement to new heights.

Worker Leader of the Year

Chosen for demonstrated excellence in college food. Winner receives a cash prize.

Northwestern University 
From the Heart
Manny has been working in the Northwestern dining halls for 23 years. He is a leader in the workplace because he genuinely cares about his coworkers and is not afraid to stand up for them. When a special needs dishwasher needed to ask for a day off to go to the doctor, Manny went with him and stood by his side as he talked to the supervisor. When a worker in another dining hall was being mistreated, Manny helped her get a transfer to his dining hall so that he could look out for her. Manny is now a leader on the worker committee, and after 23 years he is leading the fight on campus for respect and dignity for Northwestern dining workers.
Manny’s Advice: Do everything from the heart. Follow your instincts, and listen to your heart. To accomplish, to conquer, follow your heart. Light up your candle in your heart – be strong, don’t fear anything. Your heart will guide you everywhere.

Loyola University Chicago Dining Services 
A Relentless Fighter
Janet has been a dining hall worker at Loyola University Chicago for 26 years. Described by her co-workers as a “relentless fighter,” Janet is a central figure in the struggle for worker’s rights at Loyola and a member of the Union organizing committee, Janet is a source of inspiration for her fellow co-workers.
After leading the first delegation to speak to management, Janet rallied the workers and cried, "Don't be discouraged, stick with me! We're gonna make it!"
Through Janet’s leadership, the Loyola Aramark Food Service Workers won their first contract with Aramark in June after a nine month struggle.  
Janet’s inspiration: Always the students – we want to get them good food.

Harvard University Dining Services
Pride and Partnership
Why her? Anabela has spent countless hours in her off time, both during the school year and her seasonal lay-off this summer, educating her fellow workers and Harvard students about Harvard's unsustainable food practices. As a leader amongst the workers -- not only in her own dining hall, but also in many of the halls around campus, Anabela is working to make sure the workers -- who handle the food, know it most intimately, and have immense pride in feeding their students healthy, delicious, and sustainable food -- are a leading force in the campaign for real food at Harvard. Anabela is convinced that the power of bringing a real food movement to Harvard's campus can come only from the deepest student-worker coalition imaginable. 
What others say about Anabela: Anabela has inspired many with her vision, courage and deep affection for students and her co-workers.

Producer of the Year

Chosen for producing high quality real food that benefits the community and the earth, and for demonstrating an entrepreneurial approach to producing food.

ALBA (the Agriculture and Land Based Training Association)
Salinas, CA

Growing Food, Growing Farmers

ALBA is a consortium of over 20 independent farmers. ALBA rents land and equipment to primarily Chicano immigrant, limited-resource, aspiring farmers and then offers the education, technical support and business opportunities the farmers need to succeed. They teach how to establish and operate small farm businesses in an economically viable way, while simultaneously enhancing biological diversity and protecting natural resources with conservation methods. They also work on food access: they helped establish nine new farmers markets and farm stands, catering specifically to low-income residents.

What students say about ALBA: What we love about ALBA is that their program supplies us with delicious organic, local food, and it supplies the state with sustainability-minded farmers.

City Colleges of Chicago-Richard J. Daley Branch
Gardens Where They Are Needed Most
Why him? Gregory has established community gardens across Chicago. He has directed young people of all ages at each of these gardens to grow produce and learn life skills. His students operate community markets to sell fresh, organic vegetables. Last year, he supervised the development of a 2 acre garden in the CHA Altgeld Garden Public Housing Development. They sealed off extreme soil contamination to safely grow vegetables in an area where there are no grocery stores. This community will have access to convenient, healthy food for the first time in years.
What others say about Gregory: It's difficult to specify just one highlight of working with Gregory Bratton. Here it goes: Gregory has an immense wealth of knowledge, and he has been very generous in sharing that with me.  He helps me to identify strange looking plants that appear spontaneously in the garden. I have learned to erect hoop houses using scrap material and the same in constructing pest free compost bins...It is great fun working with him. He demonstrates daily a passion for growing plants.

Rosasharn Farm
Stewarding the Land, Serving the Community
While still a sophmore at Brown University, Margiana started up a Community Supported Agriculture program serving a low income community in Providence. Since establishing the CSA, the farm has doubled every year in acreage. Now, it is 5 acres, with over 300 varieties of vegetables, hogs and poultry serving 50 families and numerous local restaurants.
Margiana has a deep understanding of agrarian philosophy, soil science and plant biology and organizes regular Young Farmers Night gatherings in.  Through a partnership with Brown's Environmental Studies program, she host hundreds of student volunteers every year and helps teach university courses on food and agriculture.
What others say about Margiana: As a farmer she is a steward of the land, practicing 100% organic growing methods. As an eater of food, Margiana is committed to cooking delicious meals and to preparing food thoughtfully and with care. When you share a meal with Margiana there is a sense of gratitude and appreciation that is too easily forgotten most of the time.

Food Service Director or Manager of the Year

Chosen for leadership in making real food a reality on campus.


Seton Hill University
Food Service Director
His Door is Always Open

Darren is a leader in dining hall sustainability efforts at Seton Hill University. By instituting trayless dining, Darren reduced waste by 6,152 pounds per semester. With support from student volunteers, Darren started a garden producing tomatoes and peppers for the dining hall. The garden produces 1390 pounds of fresh tomatoes and 900 pounds of fresh peppers: all of which went to dining hall salad bars and pizzas. He composts food waste for use as soil amendment in flower gardens on campus and introduced reusable to go boxes in dining halls. 

What others say about Darren: Student ideas are always more than welcome and his door is always kept open.The suggestion board in the dining hall is always full of suggestions and comments that receive very thorough and genuine responses. He has shown an immense amount of interest in helping the dining hall become more accommodating to students. Vegetarian options are available with more being added each semester. In addition gluten-free foods are available too and labeling has become one of the latest projects.

Yale University
Chef, Silliman Residential College 
Holding Up a Higher Standard

Chef Stu has been working at Silliman College, one of the 12 residential colleges at Yale, for 28 years.  He has challenged administrators in Yale Dining Services and the Yale Sustainable Food Project to maintain a high standard for sustainability: a standard not just about buying organic, but about strengthening the local economy by looking for environmentally-responsible producers and purveyors in the New Haven area.  Stu is working to educate undergrads about their food by advocating for greater transparency and better labeling in the dining halls.  Stu is committed to improving job training for dining hall staff and teaching new workers about the university’s standards for sustainability. By sharing his commitment to food that’s good for human health and the environment with so many members of the university community, Chef Stu is truly making sustainability work at Yale.

Stu’s Favorite Quote: Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.

University of California, Santa Cruz
Senior Food Service Manager
Bringing Culture and Creativity

Mike is a foodie who takes great pains to be sure that everyone has access to tasty, nutritious food.  He takes Meatless Mondays as an opportunity to invent new, creative dishes.  His dining hall has “the best salad bar on campus,” and the most gluten-free options.  

What others say about Mike: From regional ethnic dishes to exotic specialties Mike works with his kitchen team to keep it fresh and real.  His fruited quinoa was enjoyed by over 300 guests at the recent Strengthening the Roots Convergence and his black bean burgers are legendary!... Mike goes the extra 5k to source the best produce and widest variety of local fruits and vegetables for his customers. 

Stanford University
Director, Stanford Dining Sustainable Food Program
More Taste, Less Waste

Matt has been a leader in creating university policy to support more sustainable food purchasing and dining practices. He worked with students and other allies to decrease food waste by more than 50% in one dining hall, and allocate the savings to purchase better quality and more sustainable food. He has increased purchasing from independently owned food businesses, instituted organizational policies that prefer organics and Seafood Watch-approved fish, and advocated for transparency in food purchasing. 

How Matt got his start: I asked my dad during my senior year of college if after graduation I could join him in managing our family’s three thousand acre conventional corn farm and he said no. He explained how agriculture had been evolving on a path of ever-increasing consolidation and that our farm wouldn’t be able to compete through another generation without considerable infusions of cash.  I was devastated, but nevertheless motivated to better understand alternative models that might save our farm, which marked the beginning of my professional career in the food industry.  

Administrator or Faculty Member of the Year

Chosen for support of student leadership in real food.

Mount Holyoke College
Coordinator, Miller-Worley Center for the Environment
A Gardener and A Mentor
Ruby helped students to establish a student garden as a permanent part of the college. She provides mentorship, and helps secure funding every summer for two garden manager interns. She also mentors inner city youth in Springfield through Gardening the Community (GTC), an organization that she co-founded.
In Ruby’s words: Before coming to Mount Holyoke I was the Director of Gardening the Community, a youth urban agriculture project in Springfield. Lots of my friends and family referred to me as "Ms. Environmentalist" but I saw growing food in the city as a blend of the social and the environmental. When I came to work for the Center for the Environment I found that the mission of the Center spoke to that idea of interconnectedness between the natural world and the communities we call home.

Pratt Institute
Adjunct Associate Professor
Justice That is Functional and Beautiful
Elliott is a visionary and a teacher.  As a landscape architect, she sees urban agriculture as a key way to address some of the environmental justice issues in cities. A principle of Thread Collective, she has worked on a number of projects to integrate sustainability and beauty into urban design.  She is also a devoted mentor to her students.
What others say about Elliott: She never lets an idea lie there. She wants you to really understand what you are saying or mean- it's hard to describe, but there is no hiding in your work with her... When you are talking to her she is right there. Listening. 

University of Wisconsin, Madison
Associate Professor in Urban and Regional Planning
Opening Minds, Opening Doors
Alfonso has been teaching at the University of Wisconsin in Madison for six years. In that time, he has mentored many students who are studying food issues. In particular, he supported Slow Food UW to pilot a new open-source cafe on campus.
Alfonso’s inspiration: The memory of my grandfather and long dead relatives inspires me still. My parents inspire me, I can easily recall my mom making butter and cheese from milk my brother and father milked from our Jersey's pretty funny. I'm also inspired by the folks I meet in cities around the country, and around the world...folks who want to have a greater say in their food, whether it is by gardening, holding small animals, processing food, selling it, distribution, and etc. Finally, I'm inspired by my many students who are interested in the food system and who work with me developing their interests.

University of New Hampshire
Director, Dual Major in EcoGastronomy; Lecturer, Department of Hospitality Management
Major Steps
Daniel helped to establish a dual major in EcoGastronomy at UNH and developed it. To date 12 students have graduated with the dual major, 62 more have declared it, and over 170 have taken the introductory course.
Daniel’s favorite food: My favorite food is the simple English pea, or shell peas to some. Growing up, my family had a large garden and we always plotted a substantial area for peas. I never really enjoyed the planting, weeding, picking, shelling and freezing process. My home felt like a work camp. But I did always look forward to that first fresh pea, popped into my mouth. The pea patch would call to me—I couldn’t stay away…