Students for Sustainable Food drop banner in Red Square
By Zoe Deal
A banner was dropped from the top floor of Miller Hall at 1 p.m. on Tuesday by Western’s Students for Sustainable Food to address ways they say the food system perpetuates racism and to highlight the actions of Western’s food provider, Aramark.
The large white banner that read “our food system is built on racism” was one of 10 similar signs hung at universities across the country.
Below the banner, club members passed out flyers and gave further explanation to passing students. Sophomore Max Boock was one SSF member who approached students in Red Square.
“Saying that our food system is built on racism is kind of a new idea for a lot of people,” Boock said. “Building awareness is our goal today, as well as participating in a nationwide action that supports our values and Western’s values.”
The flyer listed some specific examples of corporate food companies upholding white supremacy in the food system today. Some issues that SSF brought up are how pollution impacts low-income neighborhoods, the riskiest jobs in the industry are held by mostly people of color and how local farm workers do not get paid overtime or even minimum wage.
Sophomore Kenzie Garner helped organize the event, which she said draws attention to how Aramark benefits from slavery with their presence in prisons.
“[Aramark is] in a ton of prisons across the U.S., and prison is basically America’s new wave of slavery,” Garner said. “People of color makeup the largest population of incarcerated people. So we, Students for Sustainable Food, want to divest from Aramark in 2021 when our contract ends with them and go self-operated.”
The move towards a self-operated food system at Western is the primary goal of SSF. The club has already made significant strides with the success of their Real Food Challenge, which will allocate $1 billion to the purchase of “real food” by 2020.
With this restriction, Aramark must purchase 25 percent of dining hall food from local, sustainable and ethical producers.
Now, SSF wants to push Aramark off Western’s campus. Though the creation of a new contract is four years away, SSF is looking to increase awareness now.
“One of our goals is to outreach and find people who want to be taking action and join our campaign,” Garner said.
For more information about SSF’s campaign, visit the club’s Facebook page at Students for Sustainable Food WWU.