This blog post was written by Natalie Tran, UC Santa Cruz, '15.
The California State University system may be the largest state school system in the world with 23 campuses and over 400,000 students. And right now, we students in California sit at an incredible turning point
This past week, we students from Humboldt State, San Francisco State, CSU Long Beach, CSU Pomona, CSU Northridge, and UC Santa Cruz met in Long Beach to attend a Board of Trustees meeting at the Office of the Chancellor. We came to raise our voices in support of a sustainable food section in a pending sustainability policy, which could affect over $100 million in university food purchases.
We gave speeches during the Tuesday and Wednesday meetings to share our stories and experiences with a room filled with the highest-level administrators—trustees, campus presidents, Governor Jerry Brown, and the chancellor of the CSU system—to explain the importance of real food on our campuses.
After we gave our public comments, the room seemed in full support of expanding the sustainability policy to include food systems and for the future of the CSU system as leaders in the sustainability movement! The final vote will come in May, but this was an incredible milestone!
Real Food Challenge has a long history in California. In 2008, food leaders and visionaries from across the country came together at the University of California, Santa Cruz to form the Real Food Challenge with the dream of changing the food system. The next year the entire University of California system made the commitment of 20% sustainable food by 2020. Then in 2011, the chancellor of UC Santa Cruz signed the Real Food Campus Commitment for 40% real food by 2020 on their campus--setting a new national standard.. And 2014 is when students in the CSU system will win their own real food campaign. I’m sure of it.
Just a few months ago, students from all over the state came together and met at the University of California, Santa Cruz for the West Coast Regional Strategy Retreat. Over a long weekend, we learned around real food issues on our campuses and about grassroots organizing. The retreat cultivated a space for student power as we learned about how we can leveraging our voices to get a commitment signed on the state level that ensures accountability, transparency, and change within the food system.
These past few months working with students throughout the state has made me realize that something huge and amazing is coming. The real food movement is rising from the little room amongst the redwoods years ago. It's rising from the generations of students throughout the years who’ve worked to catalyze a vision of a world with a just and fair food system.
What an incredible journey it has been so far! I know in May, with all our hard work and determination, I'll be able to write again... but this time with just two words: WE WON.