Skip directly to content

2011 Real Food Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2011 Real Food Awards!

The movement for Real Food on college campuses is sweeping the country and the Real Food Awards are an opportunity to celebrate some of the highlights of that movement.
Among the awardees are the winners of the Real Food Pioneer Award, schools that are leading the Real Food Challenge movement in transparency and improvement of real food purchasing on campus.
In addition to honoring schools, we are honoring individuals and groups that have done incredible work to promote real food at their schools, to develop new leaders and to bridge communities—be they worker-student, producer-consumer or town-gown. These winners were nominated by students and chosen from a slate of finalists by students and staff at Real Food Challenge based on the votes and comments of over 2000 people. It is clear that all of the finalists are an inspiration to their communities and to others in the Food Movement, and we encourage you to read their stories.

Real Food Pioneers

In the past two years, students at these schools have assessed their schools’ food purchasing with the support of their dining administrators. By piloting the Real Food Calculator, they have quantified what percent of their school budget is spent on local and community-based, fair, ecologically sound or humane food. In February 2012, the Real Food Calculator will be taken out of its pilot phase and a formal web application will be unveiled.

In the end of October, we launched the Real Food Campus Commitment, a commitment signed by the President of a college or university, committing the school to at least 20% real food by 2020. St. Mary’s College in Indiana was the first to sign on! Check back here to see new Commitment Pioneers—another school has signed and will go public soon!

Brown University Providence, RI
Cabrillo College Aptos, CA
Carleton College Northfield, MN
Eastern Washington University Cheney, WA
Hamilton College Clinton, NY
Iowa State University Ames, IA
Macalester College St. Paul, MN
Pacific University Forest Grove, OR
Pomona College Claremont, CA
San Rafael School District San Rafael, CA
*St. Mary’s College Notre Dame, IN
University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA
University of California-Davis Davis, CA
University of California-Irvine Irvine, CA
University of California-Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA
University of California-Santa Cruz Santa Cruz, CA
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
University of Vermont Burlington, VM
University of Washington Seattle, WA
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO
Western Washington University Bellingham, WA
Whitman College Walla Walla, WA
*Signatory of the Real Food Campus Commitment

Student Group or Activist


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.
Selected Quotes from Supporters:
The Permaculture Committee has changed the way students are eating on campus, and how I've started thinking about food. I truly think the on-campus vegetable garden started a food revolution at UMass, which now has a weekly student farmers' market among other exciting changes. When what goes on here has the potential to impact 25,000 students, you know you're doing something big.
Not only have they transformed the culture, diets, health, awareness, consciousness of the huge University community, but they have formed important and vital links with the community at large. They have connected with other farmers and people throughout the western MA area bridging the Town/Gown division in the process and forging life-long and sustaining links…

Worker Leader

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.

Selected Quotes from Supporters:
Manny is an incredibly inspiring leader, both with students and his fellow union members. Last year he played a key role in standing up alongside the student Living Wage Campaign to improve jobs and lives for Northwestern's food workers. But not only that, he is deeply passionate about the food he cooks -- he even dances while he's working in the kitchen -- and his love for students shines through every day.
Manny works incredibly hard, helping prepare kosher meals at the Chabad house on campus after his shift in the dining halls. Despite it all, Manny never fails to greet his customers with a smile and a joke, spreading his good will and making the dining hall feel more like home.


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.
Selected Quotes from Supporters:
ALBA is the best! They are easy to work with and help us keep our students eating fresh, delicious and organic!
I had the privilege of getting to work with growers from ALBA back when I was in school, and their inspiration guided me to food systems work. My last year at Stanford was the first year that ALBA began selling to the University, when farm direct sales to Universities seemed to just be getting started. I am voting for them for being part of my path to this work, and for being the first farmers that I knew of who were selling to a school almost ten years ago.

Food Service Director or Manager 

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.
Selected Quotes from Supporters:
Darren is the heart of Seton Hill University. If there is good work to be done, Darren will be involved in it. He educates the entire SHU community in generosity, creativity, and dedication. Haunted Hill, Habitat for Humanity trips, organic gardening, composting, midnight breakfast…Outstanding human being, outstanding director of food services - truly the heart of the institution.
Darren is a staple at Seton Hill, consistently pushing for exceptional food quality with minimum eco impact. He has spent tireless hours investigating food providers with the least packaging…and made efforts to teach our campus about sustainability and the benefits of supporting local farmers…

Administrator or Faculty

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.

Comments from Supporters:
Ruby is an inspiration to us all! Wonderful and kind, she is the best mentor I could I have asked for!
Ruby works tirelessly for food justice, access, and education, often behind the scenes. She deserves to be recognized for her work, and supported in continuing it!