Florida kicked off the first of four Real Food Challenge leadership trainings around the country this summer. On August 11th, a group of student leaders from across the state and throughout the southeast and northeast region converged in Orlando for four days of sharing stories and skills for effective campus organizing around real food.
After traveling into town midday Wednesday, everyone gathered for introductions to the Real Food Challenge and each other, and explored the connected spokes of the Real food wheel. Later came socializing over some local tea and coffee, before sharing a home-cooked dinner of warm chili with rice and a fresh salad of local, organic produce.
Over the next few days the attendees came together each morning for full days of interactive workshops, skills-sharing, speakers, and more group meals. With sessions on anti-oppression and story-telling, the group engaged with the personal narratives that move us to act, and explored more tools for action in workshops like the Real Food Calculator 101. Strategic campaign planning began on Thursday, after an intensive on the food service industry, and the conversations continued through the end of the week with school break-out sessions, brainstorming, and group commentary---collectively crafting plans to bring back to their home campus communities.
Attendees also got to hear directly from other organizations involved in the food movement. A presentation was given on Thursday by representatives from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Student Farmworker Alliance, addressing social injustices within the supply chains past our plates, and the added power and pressure of moving with students to amplify the voice for fair food. On Friday, the group headed out to the University of Central Florida’s Arboretum, where the rain let up in time for a sunny guided tour of the campus community garden. Both organizations, each in their own way, relate to the power of strengthening our awareness of our food’s production.
In the midst of all the presentations and planning, the group also found time to enjoy some local spaces in the city, including a group dinner out and sweet stop at a local bakery co-op for shared cupcakes with local music.
Attendees packed up on Saturday with strategic plans, renewed motivation, new tools, and new friends for a fresh school year of action, ripening some real results.