The members of Husky Real Food Challenge (HRFC) delivered a letter to UW president Ana Mari Cauce on Jan. 31, requesting to meet directly with her to address the university’s commitment to justice through its food purchasing.
Along with the letter, the HRFC presented president Cauce with a gift — a banana, “a fruit with a history that intersects deeply across the global struggle for justice and dignity,” as the letter states.
The purpose of the banana was to reveal the open wound of colonization and oppression driven by multinational corporations. In the letter, HRFC references Dole Food Company and Chiquita Brands International, both of which are based in the U.S. and which comprise over half the market share of banana trade.
“The banana represents the choice our institution has between the oppressive status quo and the just alternative,” the letter states.
Real Food Challenge is a national organization and movement that defines real food as food certified by third parties to be ecologically sound, humane, fair, and local.
The student club, HRFC, is a huge advocate for food justice because each member truly believes that food lies at the intersection of a justice movement for workers, the environment, and number of issues including animal rights and immigration rights.
“We need to think of food purchasing as a movement of not just investment but divestment as well,” HRFC member Nathan Bombardier said.”
Early last year on Feb. 5, the HRFC team met with president Cauce to talk about the UW’s current real food percentage status and potential plans for the university to commit to more real foods.
Since then, ASUW, GPSS, and RCSA have all passed resolutions in support of committing to 25 percent real food on campus.
According to the letter, “over 80 schools have signed on, including the entire UC, and Cal State system, University of Utah, Western Washington University, Gonzaga University, and many more.”
The letter’s main purpose was to ask for a commitment from president Cauce for the UW to address the injustices in our food system by committing to purchasing 25 percent real food by 2020.
“Food is more than just food, you know? Like a banana is more than a snack,” Bombardier said. “It is a product of a long history and it is the manifestation of the colonial past we have and that story is still unfolding today, and we’re still participating in a colonial system by buying food from giant companies.”
HRFC has requested to schedule a half-hour meeting with president Cauce to discuss what commitments can be made to address the UW’s food purchasing.
However, Cauce has not made an administrative decision so far.
“The president is aware that the Husky Real Food Challenge group is working with HFS Dining Services on this issue and is reserving comment until that process has been completed,” the Office of the President said via email.
Members of the HRFC have reached out to president Cauce via email twice this quarter, but have been told to defer their proposal to Housing and Food Services (HFS).
HRFC is currently waiting for a response from Cauce about their most recent action, the letter and the banana, before they meet with each other in their next meeting to discuss the next course of action.