Student organizations promote solidarity for farmworkers
The phrases “Are you serious?” and “You’ve got to be kidding me,” were heard being chanted inside Academic Instructional Center West.
The calls came in reply to a showing of the documentary “Food Chains: The Revolution in America’s Fields,” on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
Wednesday night’s event was co-sponsored by two student bodies, the Students for Sustainable Food club and the Social Issues Resource Center.
The Western Front reached out to the Social Issues Resource Center, but the center declined to comment.
The documentary focused on issues facing Florida’s farming and agricultural world. Some topics included were flaws in the U.S. agriculture system as a whole and low wages for farmworkers in a seemingly booming commerce.
The documentary showing comes in the wake of a 5-year campaign the club has been working on, which began making progress in spring 2016, Students for Sustainable Food President Emma Bigongiari said.
On April 1, 2016, former Western President Bruce Shepard, Director of University Residences Leonard Jones and several students from Students for Sustainable Food signed an agreement stating Western will purchase 25 percent of its dining hall food budget on locally sourced products by the year 2020.
“The idea behind this film screening is to get folks involved in thinking about where their food comes from and to connect them to the Real Food Challenge.”
Students for Sustainable Food President Emma Bigongiari
The club’s development with Western’s dining system is one notch in a nationwide movement called the Real Food Challenge. The student activist movement is a collective of universities across the U.S. working to shift $1 billion of university food money away from industrial-centered food items, and more toward community-based and locally sourced foods.
Rosa Rice-Pelepko is the vice president of Students for Sustainable Foods.
“You have real power starting in the food system on campus,” Rice-Pelepko said. “[The Real Food Challenge] gives students more organizing power because it demands a certain set of standards that universities will be held accountable to.”
According to the Real Food Challenge’s website, the effort is comprised of four components, defining “real food” as local/community based, fair, ecologically sound and humane. These are thus impacted by factors of producers, consumers, communities and the agriculture itself.
Prior to the showing, Students for Sustainable Food offered a variety of food options for people attending who participated in a pre-movie discussion. Club members brought a “toast bar,” where students could toast bread and eat local jams, butters and sprouts.
All the food provided was plant based, which is something the club strives for to reduce ecological impact and promote plant-based eating habits.
Bigongiari encourages other students to look into the Food Empowerment Project in addition to researching information about the Real Food Challenge.
Currently, there are no plans for future events through Students for Sustainable Foods. Bigongiari said they are attempting to put together “teachings,” which will help further their campaign as well as give students more information about this topic.
“The idea behind this film screening is to get folks involved in thinking about where their food comes from and to connect them to the Real Food Challenge,” Bigongiari said. “[We want] them to know there is a committee that represents student interests.”
Students for Sustainable Foods club meets every Wednesday from 6-7 p.m. in Humanities room 102.