Real Food OSU continues to campaign for locally sourced food
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
On February 19, between the chimes of the Orton Hall bell, you may have noticed groups of students wearing painted clocks and imitating the ticking of a clock over Ohio State’s campus. These clock-wearing activists were doing more than reminding students about the passage of time; they were raising awareness for a cause that relies on immediate action from President Drake.
At 3 p.m., the group gathered on the steps of Bricker Hall. Chants calling for local, non-corporate food could be heard reverberating across the Oval. After rallying, the group approached the office of President Drake.
This group of activists is Real Food OSU, and they have been campaigning at Ohio State for the past two years. They are a part of a larger organization called Real Food Challenge with chapters in schools around the country.
The Real Food Challenge aims to have $1 billion of university food across the country invested in local and sustainable sources by 2020. Real Food OSU’s goal: having 40 percent of Ohio State’s food locally and sustainably sourced by 2025.
Some schools, like Northwestern University and the University of Pittsburg, have already received administrative support and passed commitments similar to the one that Real Food OSU is calling to attention. Students from these schools teamed up with Ohio State’s chapter in action to meet with President Drake as a part of the Real Food Challenge’s Midwestern Retreat. The commitment they wish to pass outlines guidelines for local, sustainable and community-based food. Having partnered with researchers and farms in the Columbus area, Real Food OSU is figuring out ways this agreement will work at Ohio State by outlining farm partnerships that feasibly meet their goals.
However, it isn’t until President Drake signs the commitment allowing the group to obtain necessary data on Ohio State’s food sources that implementation of their pilot program may begin. Rachel Metzler, fourth-year student and president of Real Food OSU, said the biggest challenge of passing their commitment is getting their message through to Ohio State’s administration.
“We have been negotiating with administration for as long as this campaign has been going on and we will continue to negotiate until we win the commitment and we see this policy come to fruition,” said Metzler.
The action on February 19, was organized with the goal of finally reaching administration. Real Food OSU, with help of students from other Midwest schools, approached President Drake’s office in Bricker Hall.
The group waited to hear if Drake would accept their request for a meeting. Unfortunately, he was on a flight headed abroad and unable to meet. Most of the group then headed to the Summit on 16th United Methodist Church to debrief. Despite being unsuccessful, the group resolved not to give up their commitment on creating a healthy, green and fair food system at OSU.
At the end of the day, the dimly lit church basement filled with the sounds of chatter and laughter as someone began plucking at a guitar. It was here that Metzler expressed a parting message to the group.
“I think a large part of the Buckeye community is looking to President Drake for this commitment to secure the transparency, the democratic process and the justice that were denied today and this commitment will ensure just that in our food system,” Metzler said.
More information can be found at u.osu.edu/realfoodchallenge and realfoodchallenge.org.