Engaging with Real Food

By Aolani Peiper, Real Food Challenge Coordinator

The last time I wrote for the Environmental Center was during my freshman year and my first semester at the EC. Now I am nearing the end of my sophomore year, and I am the coordinator of the Real Food Challenge Team. I never would have thought I would be leading this special team of intelligent and hardworking individuals into the realm of food justice and security.

In my time here, the Real Food Challenge has been more than a national campaign for socially just food. It has also been a chance to empower the students and community at Fort Lewis and beyond! Only 2% of Fort Lewis foods were “real” in my first semester here. With the help of my wonderful team, the EC coordinator, and Sodexo staff, we have increased our percentage to 7% in just one year – well on our way to our first major goal of 20%.

It’s an honor to be a part an eclectic community that cares so much about food and the environment. Fort Lewis, the EC, and the Durango community are working towards an ecologically sound, humane, fair trade, and local food system right at home. I thought “real food” was important because it meant a healthier lifestyle for the body and the environment, but it has become something much larger than that.

My perspective has changed a lot since I became involved with the EC. I became turned on to food systems and the social justice side of this work. The fact is, “real food” requires a movement, and I want to make a difference. There isn’t a better way to start than in my own community and at my school. Becoming more involved as an FLC student through the EC has been eye opening. I may not be your typical Environmental Studies major, but I see a difference in what I can do through the Real Food Challenge.

I think its best with a movement like this to hear from the people: the students who live on campus and eat the food here. I love educating people on “real food” and the impacts it can have socially, economically, physically and environmentally. I am especially proud of the Vote Real campaigns my team and I hold as well as the presentations we give. I see the voice of community shining through my team, and I see pressure being put on corporate powers. The Vote Real campaigns give a voice to those who need to be heard. It is food democracy.

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