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Student group working with Sodexo to increase “real food” served on campus

EVANSTON, Ill. — Real Food at NU, a student group that aims to increase the percentage of fairly and sustainably produced food on campus, is working with Northwestern’s food provider to determine how much “real food” is served in NU dining halls.

The student organization is the NU chapter of the Real Food Challenge, which strives to raise the proportion of food that fits its definition of “real” at university campuses around the country.

Miranda Cawley, co-director of Real Food at NU, said “real food” is any item that is “ecologically sound, community-based, humanely produced or fair trade.”

The Medill junior said Real Food at NU emphasizes community-based food companies not owned by corporations and instead rooted in local economies.

Weinberg junior Renee Schaaf, the lead analyst for Real Food at NU, said she is working with the University’s food provider, Sodexo, to run the real food calculator. The calculator is a “Web-based platform that the Real Food Challenge has designed to calculate real food percentages in institutions throughout the U.S. in a way that is standardized,” Schaaf said.

Schaaf said she is trying to determine what percentage of NU’s food fits the Real Food Challenge guidelines to convince University President Morton Schapiro to sign a pledge for NU to purchase at least 20 percent of its food from what the national organization considers local, fair, ecologically sound or humane sources by 2020.

“We are just really happy that we are able to work so productively with Sodexo,” Cawley said. “We hope that after the calculation is done, we can see where we stand and move forward toward 20 percent real food by 2020.”
Schaaf said it took a while for Real Food at NU and Sodexo to form concrete plans.

“They wanted to do some research before they moved forward with running the calculator to make sure that it was going to add something to what they were already doing,” Schaaf said.

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