Attention California: Food Movement Leaders Seek Members for Statewide Collaborative

Clement Tsang, July 9, 2018

The California State University system is once again at the forefront of progressive food system advocacy as it begins recruitment for a new statewide collaborative. The CSU Food Systems Working Group is a multi-stakeholder group tasked with paving the way for nourishing, sustainable food across campuses.

From a legacy of leadership: Over the past few years, students in the CSU system have passed policies that push the envelope of university leadership in advocating for Real Food, or food that is fair to workers, humane to animals, ecologically sound, and supportive of local food producers. In 2014, students successfully organized to include a commitment to purchasing Real Food in the CSU’s Sustainability Policy. Just last year, the governing body of almost a half a million students passed a resolution that drew attention to kickbacks between foodservice providers and large food businesses which result in locking out small producers from selling to universities and low-quality food at a high cost to students. The resolution uplifts the need to invest in small student and community based businesses that regenerate our food systems.

Toward enormous economic impact: Once enacted, these policies will mean the CSUs invest $25,000,000 of their food budget in small and community based farms, fair work practices, humane treatment of animals, and ecologically sound agricultural practices. This means better quality and more affordable food for anyone eating in the dining halls.

Through community collaboration: Right now, California food movement leaders are recruiting new members of the team that will move these system-wide policies into a reality felt on campus and in our communities. This team, known as the CSU Food System Working Group, is the first ever campus system-wide multi-stakeholder body of students, faculty, dining services staff, technical experts, and community members. It is tasked with the purpose of moving those broad commitments into a reality on campus.

Working deeply together: Students, faculty, staff, community members, industry experts, and producers will put their heads together to:

  • Meet, network, determine discuss goals for a Multi Year Action Plan
  • Identify best practices and impediments to implementation of CSU Food Sustainability policies.
  • Troubleshoot and chart action plans to achieve goals set by the Multi Year Action Plan
  • Establish a CSU-wide network to strategize for implementation and enforcement of CSU Food Sustainability Policies

Here are the available roles within the CSU Food Systems Working Group: 

  1. Core Team - Coordinate and facilitate committees focusing on collaboration and communication between all members. Create, update, and track progress of the Multi-Year Action Plan.
  2. Product Shift - Strategize with community partners, technical experts, and campus dining staff to identify products to shift institutional dollars towards in service of the 20% Real Food purchasing goal by 2020 and thereafter.
  3. Calculator Implementation - Support and help start individual campuses’  Real Food Calculator research projects that track and report on where food purchases come from, while supporting other committees with baseline data, impediments to implementation, and potential solutions.  
  4. Research, education, and policy - Update and advocate language in the CSU Food Sustainability Policy in partnership with the CSU Sustainability Affinity Group, the California State Student Association, the Board of Trustees, and the CSU’s Chancellor’s Office.
  5. CSU Food Systems Working Group Student Caucus - Gather with students to discuss food systems issues in a general meeting format helping guide the Core and Committees. 

Applications to join the CSU Food System Working Group are currently open and available here