Clark Gets Real with the Real Food Challenge

If you haven’t enjoyed locally grown broccoli in the dining hall or heard of the Real Food Challenge elsewhere, I’m happy to inform you that Clark University was the first University in Massachusetts to accept the call to action.

The idea behind the Real Food Challenge is to utilize students and their University’s dining services to promote a “fair and green food system.” The goal: to allocate $1billion in current university food budgets from industrial farms into “real food” by 2020. To be considered “real food,” products must be locally or community grown in a fair, humane and ecologically sound manner. Clark accepted the Real Food Campus Commitment just last year, promising that by 2020, at least 20% of their food will be real. I had the opportunity to talk to Amanda Brackett, one of the University’s greatest advocates for the Real Food Challenge. Below she better explains this inspiring initiative.

Amanda Brackett
Amanda Brackett

What has been your role in bringing the Real Food Challenge to Clark?

During the campaign to bring the Real Food Challenge to Clark my main role was meeting with administrators such as the dining services manager, the business manager, and President Angel, along with writing proposals and doing baseline studies of our real food percentage. Now that we are working to implement the commitment, I am the chair of the Food Systems Working Group and I’m working to start conducting product shifts and enact our new Food Policy and Multiyear Action Plan.

Why are you so passionate about Real Food? Why do you think Real Food matters?

I am passionate about real food because I believe it is a huge aspect of a sustainable lifestyle, on both an individual and global scale due to the serious environmental and health impacts from the way that food is currently produced. The Real Food Challenge has the potential to make a change because of the scale at which colleges and universities purchase and consume food. If we can harness the purchasing power of these institutions to support local and sustainable food sources, we can have a huge impact on the food system.

If people want to learn more/become involved, what is your suggestion?

If people want to learn more about the Real Food Challenge or get involved they can contact me at

-Alexander Santos


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