Letter of Intent
Project Size: 
Large, >$1,000
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: 
$2,000
Letter of Intent: 

The UW Housing and Food Services (HFS) spends $8.5 million annually on food from 40 vendors. This is a huge fiscal sum that has a major impact on Washington State food economy, especially producer and process sectors. HFS currently lacks clear measurable definitions and standards to qualify “sustainable” and “local” food. When our RSO, Real Food Challenge (RFC), conducted a preliminary review of HFS purchases, we found ambiguity in definitions of local, when Coca Cola products were labeled locally based because processing plants are in King County. This audit will refine standards qualifying foods as local, ecologically sound, fair and humane, and will help clarify which specific food items HFS purchases really are local and sustainable. This will address another concern: lacking student awareness of the magnitude of the impact UW and HFS have on the food economy. Customers are not offered many transparent choices or sufficient information to eat locally or sustainably on campus.

The project purpose is to work with HFS long-term to improve food purchasing from sources that are locally based, ecologically sound, humane to animals, and fair to humans, in all points of the food value chain. Another objective is to increase student awareness of local sustainable food purchasing and options on campus. It is essential to include students in this process to improve student engagement with HFS staff and to help voice student opinion and strategize marketing of campus local sustainable food.

This project is the preliminary step to address these concerns. We will first conduct an audit of current HFS food purchases modeled after the Real Food Calculator, see realfoodchallenge.org/calculator. This audit will help identify which foods currently purchased are local and sustainable, and opportunities to improve. Creating this measure and producing a statistic of percent sustainable food at UW will give HFS and RFC a number for advertising and to improve upon in the future.

Contact Information
Primary Contact First & Last Name: 
Samantha E Ryder
E-mail: 
sameliza@uw.edu
Full Proposal

This will display after the CSF committee has reviewed and approved your LOI, and after you have received the link to edit your application.

Budget: 
We are requesting $2,000 to fund Phase 1. Phase I of this project will call for funding of one primary student-leader who will spear head this campaign and organize student volunteers to perform the audit. This leader will work roughly 10 hours/week at $10/hour, and will receive funding for audit-related work done from April 2011 to June 2011 (10 weeks, and no more than cumulatively 200 hours). Additional funds will be used to support two other student leaders, who will work with HFS and students on the auditing project for 4-6 hours a week at $10 an hour, for the duration of the audit project. Many student volunteers are devoting a large portion of time and energy towards this project, which will benefit HFS business strategies and sustainability standardization practices. Funding for the preliminary stages of this project is helpful to students doing this work now, and for forming one to three established RFC student positions for interested dedicated students leading future work.
Sustainability Challenge: 

The UW Housing and Food Services (HFS) spends $8.5 million annually on food from 40 vendors. This is a huge fiscal sum that has a major impact on Washington State food economy, especially producer and process sectors. HFS currently lacks clear measurable definitions and standards to qualify “sustainable” and “local” food. When our RSO, Real Food Challenge (RFC), conducted a preliminary review of HFS purchases, we found ambiguity in definitions of local, when Coca Cola products were labeled locally based because processing plants are in King County. This audit will refine standards qualifying foods as local, ecologically sound, fair and humane, and will help clarify which specific food items HFS purchases really are local and sustainable. This will address another concern: lacking student awareness of the magnitude of the impact UW and HFS have on the food economy. Customers are not offered many transparent choices or sufficient information to eat locally or sustainably on campus.

Education & Outreach: 

The main project objective is to increase outreach and education among HFS employees involved in food purchasing as well as students, campus staff and UW community members who eat on campus.
The audit results will be publicized widely at UW, as well as to national institutions like The Real Food Challenge, Sierra Club and AASHE STARS, who gauge sustainability on university campuses and will recognize the audit results and sustainability standardization practices.

This project is phase I of a long-term project to improve student demand and knowledge of a sustainable and locally based food system on UW campus. In later phases, we will conduct a review of best sustainable food promotion methods on campuses nationally and test those in UW dining halls via surveys and pre/post-test experiments. We anticipate using outreach techniques like posters, signs, message boards, social networking, and web outreach to promote current and enhanced local and sustainable food options to UW students.

Student Involvement: 

Phase I of this project will require the work of one established student leader working ten hours a week for the duration of this project (projected 10 weeks). This leader will organize the Real Food Challenge (RFC) RSO, student volunteers doing the audit, the auditing project itself, and a presentation for HFS to be completed in June with the audit results. This quarter, funding may also be offered to one-two other student volunteers who wish to work roughly 5 hours a week each to support the primary leader and help perform the audit project. Additionally, these student leaders will engage over a dozen volunteers in assisting with the audit. Volunteers will come from current RFC members, the RFC listserv, and students from classes offering service- learning opportunities (such as Geography 271 with Prof. L. Jaroz).

After the completion of phase 1, student leaders will continue to lead future RFC efforts at more detailed auditing and in education/marketing.

Timeline: 
TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Photo Source: 
UW Real Food Challenge
Year Tag: 
Amount Awarded: 
$2,000
Project status: 
Completed