We're mobilizing young people to redefine real food and build a food system that benefits everyone.

Since 2008, we’ve been training and supporting students to lead campaigns and make Real Food product shifts on their campuses. To date, we’ve won commitments to local, sustainable, fair, and/or humane food sources at 80+ schools, amounting to $80+ million annually. Our Real Food Challenge program also maintains the Real Food Standards and equips students to monitor their school’s purchases with our Real Food Calculator.

Real Food Generation (the organization that encompasses both Real Food Challenge and our new movement, Uprooted & Rising) is also a founding member of the Real Meals Campaign, a groundbreaking, intergenerational coalition to oppose the sweetheart deals between the cafeteria corporations on our campuses and the Big Food corporations that lock out community producers.

Our Mission

Real Food Challenge leverages the power of youth and universities to create a healthy, fair, and green food system.

Our Vision

Real Food Challenge aims to shift $1 billion (20%) of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms and unhealthy food and towards local & community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and humane food sources—what we call Real Food—by 2020.

What is Real Food? >>

Our Principles

All of our work comes back to six core, guiding principles:

The Real Food Principle

Real Food encompasses a concern for producers, consumers, communities, and the earth. We use this term to recognize that both the food system and the food movement are complex and made up of several distinct sectors. "Real Food" represents a common ground where all relevant issues from human rights to environmental stewardship can converge.

The Movement Principle

We are part of a larger food movement, which itself is one facet of a global movement towards a just and sustainable world. We understand that true, lasting social change happens through social movements.

The Youth Principle

Young people and students are the driving force in this movement because of our collective ability to demand and achieve widespread structural and social change, particularly by holding our institutions accountable.

The Partnership Principle

Collaboration with administration, dining services, food producers, community groups, and other allies is critical for reaching our goals.

The Multicultural Principle

Many of the problems of our food system are problems of oppression, historical and current. Our path to progress, therefore, requires dismantling oppression at all levels - personal, interpersonal, structural, and cultural.

The Participatory Principle

Believing the ends reflect the means, we seek a means that maximizes participatory planning, decision-making, and leadership structures within an intentional space where all voices are heard and respected.

Our History

The Real Food Challenge began in 2007 when it was founded by a committed group of student activists, national food movement leaders, and higher education sustainability experts. Amidst growing movements for farmworker justice, international fair trade, student farms and gardens, and local food, Real Food Challenge launched as a means to amplify student voices and focus our collective efforts on real change in higher education and in the food industry.

With the support of the California Student Sustainability Coalition, The Food Project, and a number of other national partners, Real Food Challenge became an independent, self-funded program of The Food Project in 2008. Today, Real Food Challenge operates as a self-funded, fiscally sponsored project of TSNE MissionWorks.

Since its founding, Real Food Challenge has built a powerful network of hundreds of student leaders while educating and training tens of thousands of young people across the country. These students have won shifts of over $80 million in campus cafeteria dollars to local, ecologically sound, fair, and humane farms and food businesses.