Environmental Center

Real Food Challenge page header

Real [ree-uhl, reel]; 1. true and actual; not artificial food [food]; genuine n. 2. Something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies n.

Our Mission!     What is Real?     Why Real?    

Help Us Increase our Real Food Percentage!


Great work team! Of the 625 FLC’ers who Voted Real this February, 380 cast their ballots for organic and local apples. Moving forward, the 560 pounds of apples that we serve annually in San Juan Dining will no longer be treated with 47 honey bee harming pesticides!

Eat Real: Utilize this menu to select ‘real’ foods when you dine on campus and eat ‘real’ when you are off campus

Vote Real: Choose which of 3 products you would like to permanently see in its ‘real’ form. Vote on this month's real products here

Get Involved: Visit www.realfoodchallenge.org to make your voice heard in everything from influencing the Federal Farm Bill to working on labor rights.

Moving 2% to 20%: Each Vote Real has increased our campus’ Real Food Percentage by 1.6%. Choosing any of these options would show the earth, yourself, farmers, our community, and the HONEYBEES you’ve got lots of love for them.

Did You know conventionally grown apples are found to have an average of 47 total pesticide residues found on them, 11 of which are toxic to honeybees. In 1904, Montezuma County (just over the hill where Mancos is) won three of four Gold Medals in the St. Louis World fair awarded to Colorado. The tastiness of these apples continued to spark awe and in 1906, the Montezuma apples won 101 out of 104 ribbons at the state fair. 97 of these took first place! This record has yet to be beaten.

These original Montezuma County varieties were bred to craft a diverse and very unique array of fruit, many of which could only be found here in the Southwest. In the 1917 county fair in Durango, growers showcased a total of 126 different varieties of apples! Our region quickly became the apple growing epicenter not only for the mines up in Silverton & Telluride, but also the entirety of the intermountain west. The closure of the mines, the Great Depression and the 1970s oil embargo each successively took their toll on our region’s apple economy. Orchards were abandoned and commercial fruit production halted….until now!
Learn more about our apple heritage and the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project here: http://montezumaorchard.org/

Help us get to 20% and vote for the real food you want to see in the dining hall!



Our Mission!

The Real Food Challenge is a National Campaign dedicated to creating a healthy, just and sustainable food system. To achieve this end goal, the Real Food Challenge is working with university food service accounts to shift $1 billion in institutional food spending to foods and food products that support this vision -- namely, foods that are fair, humane, ecolgoically-sound and local. Learn more about the campaign and how these terms are defined here.

Real Food Challenge graph

Our Commitment to the RFC @ FLC: In 2011, a poll of Fort Lewis College's students, faculty, and staff indicated that our highest campus sustainablity priority was to adopt an on-campus food system that nourishes our students, our planet, and our community. Accordingly, the Environmental Center launched a partnership including Fort Lewis College administration, Sodexo, students, and local farmers to explore how as a community might be able to make this vision a reality...and we discovered the Real Food Challenge. In 2013, Fort Lewis College and our Sodexo representatives signed the Real Food Challenge Commitment, pledging that as an institution, we would shift 20% of our campus dining purchasing dollars to foods 'real' foods --fair, humane, ecologically-sound, and/or local-- by 2020. By becoming part of this movement, we are not only creating a more sustainable system here at FLC, but also joining in an effort that will positively impact our food system on a global scale.


RFC @ FLC: Where Are We At?

measuring cup graphic

The Total Real Food Percentage for the 2015-2016 assessment is 7% real food.
Our Real Food percentage measures what portion our annual food spending dollars go towards foods that meet the national standards for being fair, humane, ecologically-sound, and or local


Click here for a list of 'real' foods currently available at FLC dining locations

  • 100% of our on-campus sea-food purchases qualify for the Marine Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch "Best Choices" list, and thus qualify as ecologically-sound
  • 98% of coffee and tea purchases qualify as either 'ecologically-sound' or 'fair' foods
  • Almost 70 percent of the total Sodexo budget consists of three categories --meat, produce, and groceriess--adding to a total of $179,014; In 2014-2015, $903 was spent on real food items.

Our Progress To Date:


  • Environmental Center Local Food Fellows discover and take on the CHALLENGE!
  • Real Food Challenge Task Force formed and includes representatives from FLC Administration, Sodexo Management, the Environmental Center, students, and local growers
  • Real Food Challenge Team heads to RFC National Summit
  • Complete our first RFC Calculator, 4.7% of FLC food is already ‘real’!


  • 2,000+ diners enjoy ‘real’ food during our monthly Real Food Challenge Chowdowns!
  • FLC signs the Real Food Challenge Commitment. FLC becomes the 1st school in the Southwest to  formally commit toward 20%  ‘real’ food by 2020
  • RFC founder, David Schwartz comes to FLC to advance campus initiatives


  • Campus Garden Grown Project is launched! Sourcing local, organic produce from the Old Fort Farm and Environmental Center Campus Gardens
  • Real Food Challenge catering option is launched
  • RFC Task Force starts drafting Sustainable Food Policy
  • 2013-2014 Real Food Percentage: 4.6%


  • Sodexo manager job descriptions include support for Real Food Challenge
  • FreshPack is signed as a vendor capable of providing local and ecologically-sound produce
  • RFC Education & Labeling Initiative is Launched
  • 2014-2015 Real Food Percentage: 2%
  • Local Meat Wednesdays are launched


  • The Real food Chalenge Team hosted their very first Vote Real campaign
  • Potatoes won Vote real shifting over $10,000 from conventional to organic (1.3%)
  • 2015-2016 Real Food Percentage: 7% (not including vote real campaigns)
  • Sodexo is taking part in Green Monday, where the whole dining hall except one station is meatless
  • Local Meat Wednesdays are in full effect

RFC @ FLC: Where Are We Going?

Real Food student participants

Our Goals in 2016-2017:  To advance the Real Food Challenge on campus, our partnership works in three different areas-- Assessment, Implementation and Education & Outreach. We also want to make an impact on the community and in the food system, as well as representing other food categories in the Real Food Challenge at FLC. Below is a list of what our RFC Student Staff, Sodexo employees, and RFC Task Force is working on:

Implementation: Identify and actualize processes and strategies for increasing our real food expenditures in ways that maintain affordability, access, integrity, and manageability
  • Finalize and pass FLC Sustainable Food Policy
  • Generate a working draft of a Multi-year Implementation Strategy
  • Ensure that all stakeholders feel empowered and have the resources needed to internalize and advance the Real Food Challenge
  • Work with Sodexo to research amd analyze what other foods we can shift, while represnting other categories 
  • Draft and publish a report of the 2015-2016 assessment and ligistics of Real food Challenge at FLC

Education & Engagement: Advance our campus community’s understanding of the value of real food, ways to access real food on campus, and progress of the Real Food Challenge at FLC

  • Ensure that everyone who enters San Juan Dining understands that FLC is a Real Food Challenge School
  • Provide diners with the opportunity to identify ‘real’ food
  • Transparent and honest communication about our status in the RFC
  • Provide a way to impactfully activate the larger FLC Community in advancing the RFC

Assessment: Annual audit of on-campus food purchases to determine current rate of ‘real’ foods and strategically plan on ways to increase this percentage to meet our goal

  • Complete third assessment of our Food Purchasing System (AY16-17), analyze results,  and provide strategies for moving forward
  • Provide all stakeholders with the knowledge and training in the utilization of ‘real’ food.



What is Real?

What is Real Food:
Real foods are those that are produced or processed in a way that upholds a sustainable food system. Within the Real Food Challenge, a 'real' food is one that qualifies in at least 1 of 4 categories: Fair, Humane, Ecologically-Sound, and/or Local. The criteria for each of these categories is set by the Real Food Challenge national campaign. Learn more here:

Real Food chart


Why Real?

Real Food graph

What, why, how?

  • This is an opportunity to unite students and faculty around the idea of campus sustainability- making 20% of purchased food REAL by 2020.
  • Build a space you can learn and work with your community
  • When the food is local it is seasonal/fresh and has a higher nutrient content.
  • When the food is fair trade it promotes socially just practices in the food system.
  • With ecologically sound food, we can practice environmental stewardship that conserves biodiversity and preserves natural resources, including energy, wildlife, water, air, and soil.
  • Humane food tells us the animals were treated fairly and given no extra hormones, medication, or chemicals to improve sales.

Our RFC Staff:

Louie West: My name is Emma “Louie” West and I am a double major international business and environmental studies! I am excited to be a part of the Real Food Challenge team here at Fort Lewis because I believe that making tangible changes to the food that we produce and consume has a measurable impact on my community is some of the most important work we can do!

Kaidee Akullo: I am a freshman here at the Fort and am majoring in Public Health. From a young age, my family has helped me to recognize the importance of food in life and culture. If everyone needs to eat, why not eat in a way that benefits a majority of people and organisms? It is important to me that as many people as possible know that their food choices affect more than just themselves. I am excited to be joining the Real Food Challenge team and learning more about the impact that fair, ecologically-sound, local, and humane foods have on the Fort Lewis campus. 


Katrina Rachwitz: I am a sophomore at Fort lewis College. I went vegetarian in seventh grade, and since then I have become aware ofthe impact that what we eat has on not only our health, but also the environment. I believe eating is how we can demonstrate what we believe in every day. So it is very important to me that I eat products that are kind to animals, the environment, and my body.
Ali Scheig: I am a Junior studying environmental studies at Fort Lewis College. Over the years the impact of our food has become more important to me and what it has to do with the environment. Small actions concerning our intake of food can have huge impacts and educate others about what simple things they can do, is why the Real Food Challenge is important to me.

Kelkiyana Yazzie: I am a senior Environmental Studies major and this is my second year as a team member on the Real Food Challenge team at FLC. Being a part of RFC, has allowed me to help create real change on campus by helping spread the good word through educational outreach programs such as "real food picnics" that help promote RFC.  The Real Food Challenge has impacted me by inspiring me to make choices to purchase real food that is both better for myself and the environment.



Aolani Peiper: I am currently a Sophomore at Fort Lewis College, majoring in Exercise Science. I am the coordinator for The Real Food Challenge and I am passionate about getting real food into the dining hall. I have eaten non-GMO, organic, and corn syrup free for five years with my family. Real food is important to me and I want to make it a part of everyday life in the students and faculty and show them the difference it can make towards the environment and our bodies.

Rachel Landis: I have served as the Coordinator of the Environmental Center at Fort Lewis College since 2011. During my tenure, I have worked to advance sustainability both on campus and across the region. I have focused many of my efforts on sustainable food systems and sourcing as I believe that food is both empowering and a place of our, the citizen’s, power. My accomplishments in this sector include the successful introduction of the Real Food Challenge at Fort Lewis College, the establishment of a Campus Garden Grown program, the construction of an ongoing Crop Mob program, and the dissemination of Local Food initiatives within and across the curriculum. Prior to arriving at Fort Lewis College, I ran a place-based, immersion semester program at St. Lawrence University where she successfully shifted 80% of food purchases to local sources, launched an on-site farm, and incorporated food ethics into the core curriculum. I sit on the Growing Partners of SW Colorado Steering Committee and the La Plata County Food Policy Council. When im not working on food systems, you can find me out and about schussing through our wild, snowy places, biking high in the hills or – yes, of course – imbibing in the tasty rewards associated with being a foodie.