Sustainable food policy implemented across CSU system

Recent events including the current drought and wildfires have increased the need for awareness and utilization of sustainable resources.  In the interest of encouraging success in local businesses, as well as a sustainable lifestyle, each California State University must ensure 20 percent of all food purchased must be from local community based farms by 2020.

The approval of this bill exhibits the interest by students in the state of California for the future of resources and an innate need for innovation.  Sonoma State included, many campuses across the state, both CSUs and UCs have created models to adopt a sustainable policy toward student life.  The bill mimics others like it calling for a statewide increase of renewable energy and emission reduction to 1990 levels by 2020.

Brought about by student leadership, the movement calling for change, promoted awareness and activism toward sustainability was voted into play with a petition containing over a thousand signatures. Students from all over the state of California brought the interest in sustainability to the attention of the CSU. 

“The sustainable food service goal in the university policy demonstrates the power of student participation,” said Michael Clemson, associate energy analyst at the California State University chancellor’s office.

The bill was passed and put into effect on May 21.  This policy describes sections on resource usage including energy, water, buildings, and food.  The student campaign, Real Food for CSU’s or the “Real Food Challenge,” called for fair, local, community based, ecologically sound and humane food systems.

Encouraging students to grow their own produce, use refill water stations and purchase locally grown businesses not only supports the local economy but creates a sense of leadership and welfare for the good of everyone. 

On the local level, Sonoma State has been channeling the need for change through leadership from both staff and students.  With the addition of the Student Center as well as student run programs such as Sonoma State Growers Cooperative and a growing interest in sustainability from the Associated Students. 

In April of last year, 2014 student representatives from Sonoma State attended the Sustainable Enterprise Conference in Sonoma County along with other leaders in creating sustainability in all aspects of local life.  

“Sustainability is an important issue on the campus and it is of utmost importance that when talking about sustainability we remember that is encompasses the cultural, economic and environment. Not just the environment. Culinary services is doing a good job touching each aspect of sustainability. I hope to continue to see and be a part of these changes across campus,” said Allison Jenks, sustainability senator at Sonoma State.

The Culinary Services of Sonoma State currently supports local business and promotes sustainable practices within the university’s dining venues.  Currently through culinary services, a vast amount of food purchases are from local companies all around the bay area including doughnuts from widely popular Jelly Doughnuts, and Shone Farm that comes from the Santa Rosa Junior College.  

As a campus, the option to recycle and compost is everywhere, making it easy for students to make a conscious decision to do more.  The Student Center utilizes repurposed water, and a completely environmentally friendly design. 

“Sonoma State University has committed to sustainable practices throughout numerous avenues on campus such as the Culinary Services compost program to the Recreation Center’s Green Building Certification,” said Dustin De Matteo, Sustainability Ambassador at Sonoma State.

University programs such as the Sonoma State Growers Cooperative exist to create an opportunity for students to grow produce that provides food for themselves and their peers.  Produce grown by the grower’s cooperative is purchased and used in the Student Center. This kind of change is powerful as it allows students to develop the culture of the future world. 

De Matteo said, “As students and faculty members commit to a sustainable future I’ve seen a sense of culture, unity, and pride start to emerge across diverse fields here at SSU.”