Sustainable food goal reached by Carolina Dining Services criticized

Carolina Dining Services recently reported reaching its goal of 20 percent sustainable food eight years sooner than expected — but some criticize the achievement’s legitimacy.

CDS partnered with the student organization Fair, Local, Organic (FLO) to participate in the Real Food Challenge, which encourages universities to have 20 percent of their dining hall food to be sustainable year-round.

The University did not sign an official commitment to the Real Food Challenge. However, CDS still strove for this goal unofficially, using the Real Food Calculator to track progress.

Sophomore Blair Crumpler, a FLO member and CDS intern, said FLO members agree that the Real Food Challenge goal of 20 percent has not officially been met, as the purchasing period sampled by CDS that reported 20 percent sustainability was only for a five-week period.

“If we had done that for the entire year, most likely CDS wouldn’t have been at 20 percent,” Crumpler said.

In addition, FLO members would also like to see more of the real food percentage meet two or more categories of real food, which currently only about five percent of the dining hall food meets.

Group members said this is a step in the right direction for CDS, but is not an end.

“It doesn’t mean we’re done now, that we can give up,” Crumpler said. “We are not done working with the Real Food Challenge or trying to improve.”

Senior Suzanne Fleishman, a leader of FLO, said that while it’s important to keep improving, the success of last year should not go unappreciated.

From 2011 to 2012, the increase in real food in UNC dining halls was 10.2 percent.

Glenn Lippig, FLO member and leader who worked as a CDS intern on the Real Food Calculator, said the initial report was exciting.

“We spent weeks researching it,” he said. “When we saw the 20 percent, we were so surprised that we checked it like five times.

“So not only do we know this number is accurate, but it was met in a way that’s transparent and representative of a legitimate commitment to food sustainability on CDS’s behalf.”

Inspired by this achievement, Crumpler and Fleishman said they hope to eventually have 20 percent real food year-round.

FLO and CDS have not yet set a plan to achieve these goals, but have stated that it will be a major focus of 2013.

“These five weeks are a great achievement, but we can still do some more work,” Crumpler said.

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