Real Food Calculator at UNC
The Real Food Calculator is a tool used to track an institution's dining purchases over time. Developed by The Real Food Challenge, a national group of student food-activists, the Calculator is utilized within this internship to approximate the amount of real food served in the residential dining halls of UNC-Chapel Hill. To learn more about the criteria click here.
CDS is continuing its progress with 26% Real Food! The break down follows:
Real Food Breakdown Percentages
Percentage of Total Real Food Purchased, Spring 2014
Real Food A 9%
Real Food B 17%
Real Food Percentages, Fall 2010-2013 and Spring 2014
Fall 2010 12.70%
Fall 2011 9.90%
Fall 2012 20.10%
Fall 2013 23.10%
Spring 2014 26%
We will be presenting all of our work and findings this semester and you are invited! We will be presenting on May 1st at 2 PM in Lenoir 109! We will analyze our real food percentage for this semester, discuss how we compare to other schools and offer suggestions for future growth. We hope you can make it! We have a Facebook event too!
Check us out, we got in the paper! Click on the picture to read the whole story! We shared our real food percentage and a bit of what has been happening in the dining halls this past semester and the past couple of semesters. We are so thankful for the publicity and would love to take the opportunity to again commend the Dining Halls on all of their progress over the past years. While there is always room to grow, and we certainly will, we would like to stress the growth that has already occurred and our very positive standing, especially compared to other large Universities in the country. With the support of CDS and all the support we've heard over the semester we are feeling very positive for the coming years!
Another notable product transfer, Albert's Organics. This company connects any buyer with produce and meat, you guessed it, that is all USDA certified organic through QAI. Within the real food criteria this means that all of the produce that CDS buys through Albert's Organics is ecologically sound! This product change helped to greatly improve the amount of produce that is considered Real Food. During non-harvest months such as February one would expect a decrease in the produce that is real food since it is far more difficult to buy local during this time. However by purchasing from Albert's Organics, despite the non-harvest month, real food in produce increased in the month of February compared to September. (Photo courtesy of Albert's Organic website)
Some information we learned while researching Albert's Organics is that the USDA sources other companies to complete organic certifications in many cases. To be considered organic by the Real Food Challenge criteria the food must be certified by the USDA so when we saw that all of Albert's produce was certified by Quality Assurance International we had to do some more research. After talking with a representative from Albert's Organics and researching QAI we quickly found that their accreditation falls under the jurisdiction of the USDA. You find out something new everyday here!
Excited to say have made 96.67% progress on the Real Food Calculator and are almost finished inputting all the data! This semester working on the RFC has seemed to fly by! Carolina Dining Services has been awesome to work with and we are excited to see what the real food percentage will be for the month of February.
Keep checking our blog and Facebook later this month for our final results!
We posted earlier about our wonderfully local Maola Milk which is still so true and we are so pleased with our support of local North Carolina farmers. But there is more good news from Maola Milk. It's certified Animal Welfare Approved!
That's right, the milk served in our dining hall is not only local but also humane, resulting the much deserved Real Food A category. Companies that continue to improve their standards certainly deserve our finical support. (Photo courtesy of imagesci.com)
One of the most important goals for us in this project and the entire Real Food Challenge campaign is transparency. We believe it is a persons right to know where their food is coming from. We work to know just that and share it with the public. There is often large push-backs from companies though about making this information available. And many consumers never stop to ask.
We've been stating how excited we are about reaching 83% of our data input, but what does that mean?
This means that out of the thousands of purchases that CDS made within the month of February to feed all of our hungry stomachs, the three of us interns have inputted 83% of those purchases into the Real Food Calculator! Quite a significant amount of data!
So what next? Seems like we're almost done.
Not quite. Once we input that last 17% we move towards researching those purchases, understanding if they are local, fair, ecologically sound, and/or humane. This involves a great deal of calling vendors and recording information. A lot of hours are invested in this element of the project.
After that we have a real food percentile for this month! HOORAY!! But the work is not done, Jill, Jessie, and myself, will then analyze the data, create our report, and offer alternative purchases to further increase our real food percentage. That's the end goal, to increase the real food percentage for CDS next semester.
We are trucking right along and we are very excited about what the data will reveal very soon!
A recent purchasing switch, in the fall of 2013, has brought Firsthand Foods to CDS. The sustainably raised and local beef and pork that you see in the dining halls is courtesy of this wonderful meat cooperative. Firsthand sources from farmers in the area who use sustainable and ethical practices, as well as no antibiotics or hormones.
One of the qualities that makes Firsthand so effective, and why we are able to use them in our dining hall, is their consistency. Because Firsthand sources from so many different local farmers they are able to consistently supply their retailers with the best products year round. Their large inventory also allows them to purchase more expensive insurance that is required when sourcing to such large customer bases, such as the UNC population. We are very ecstatic to have them in our dining halls and we hope that you have been enjoying their products.
You may have also seen their table at the past FLO-CDS Farmer's Market where Jennifer Curtis (One of the CEO's) was frying up some delicious sausage. If you missed them, no worries, they will be at the coming Farmer's Market on April 17th!