In February, we took unprecedented action calling on universities to commit to a real food economy. We marched. We rallied. We delivered piles of petitions, valentines, vegetables, and biscuits. We asked University Presidents from Washington state to Maine: will you continue to be part of the problem, or choose to be a part of the solution?
Our farmer, fishermen, and farmworker allies share our call for universities to take action for a real food system, in a powerful letter to university leadership:
Dear University Leaders,
We are farmers, ranchers, fishers, and farmworkers who work hard to feed our neighbors and nation.
We applaud the student leaders who are campaigning for a real food policy, and we urge you to join them by signing the Real Food Campus Commitment now. The need is urgent!
In recent decades, increasing consolidation in the food industry, racial and gender discrimination, and policies that privilege big companies over family farmers and fishermen have driven hundreds of thousands of producers out of business and suppressed wages.
It’s time for our public institutions to be part of the solution, not the problem. It’s time for them to join the University of Oklahoma, Johns Hopkins University, and 80 other institutions who are investing a portion of their cafeteria dollars in local, fair, and sustainable agriculture and fisheries. When big buyers like universities help support fair prices and create open and competitive markets, we thrive!
Expanding the base of food producers is critical, not just to us but to a growing world population whose very survival rests on the health of the soils and oceans that we carefully steward.
There are two kinds of people in the world, a saying goes: the farmers and fishermen, and those who depend on them. Now we, farmers, fishermen and food producers of all kinds -- and future generations on this Earth -- are depending on your leadership.
Carmen Black, Sun Dog Farm, Solon, IA
Ben Burkett, Indian Springs Farmers Cooperative Association, Petal, MS
Mike Callicrate, Ranch Foods Direct, Colorado Springs, CO
Thelma Gomez Bautista, Migrant Justice, VT
Shannon Eldredge, Chatham Fish Weirs Enterprises, Chatham, MA
Warren Taylor, Snowville Creamery, Pomeroy, OH