"There's nothing more intimate than the relationship between humans and food," says Hai Vo, 2009 graduate of UC Irvine, Real Food Challenge student leader, and winner of the 2009 Brower Youth Award. Hai's experience with real food has been extremely successful: he co-founded the Real Food Challenge at UC Irvine, piloted the Real Food Calculator for his senior thesis, and helped create a sustainable food policy that now governs the entire UC system, comprised of 10 campuses, affiliate hospitals, and contracted food vendors. Thanks to the work of Hai and his peers, the UC system will procure 20% real food by 2020. Read more about Hai's work at UC Irvine.
Yet real food has had a profound personal impact on Hai, who grew up eating school lunches through a program for low-income families. Poor nutrition in this food negatively affected his health, which led Hai to become an outspoken activist for food that truly nourishes. Hai's passion for real food also stems from his family's stories, which use food to trace his parents' experiences as Vietnamese refugees.
On Tuesday, October 20, Hai received the Brower Youth Award in recognition of his tremendous impact on real food in colleges and universities. The Brower Youth Award honors young people who demonstrate innovative activism and advocacy for environmental and social justice. The award supports winners' work through a stipend, mentors, and other resources.
This award honors Hai's commitment to transforming our food system through grassroots organizing and his impact on the Real Food Challenge. Fueled by his "mission to understand the dynamic relationships between food and youth," Hai continues to propel the Real Food Challenge through his work as an alumni leader.