Real Food Standards 2.0!

The Real Food Standards were researched over the course of 18 months, with input of 100+ industry experts, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, food service operators, and students. 130 certification and label claims were vetted; 40 now qualify as "real food" in the current version of the Real Food Guide. Check out our most comprehensive compilation of criteria and certifications to date!

Click here to download the Real Food Standards Package
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Click here to download the Real Food Guide
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"Welcome" from the Real Food Standards Council:

We are so excited to be sharing Real Food Standards 2.0! This release marks the culmination of more than a year of research, development, testing, and hard work. The Real Food Standards are the most comprehensive and up-to-date guide to socially and environmentally responsible food purchasing for universities, developed in deep collaboration with advisors and stakeholders including 100+ industry experts, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, campus dining staff, and students. We are proud to be releasing this newest version of our standards, which is uniquely defined by student leadership, democratic process, and deep consultation with stakeholders across the food system. Below, you will find the Real Food Guide, which synthesizes our values into a clear set of criteria and certifications that students and campus dining staff can use as a tool to make tangible and lasting change in the food system.

The Real Food Standards build a bridge to the world that we want to see. We hope you are as excited about using the standards as we are!

~The Real Food Standards Council

            Abbie Abramovich, Western Washington University
            Lori Boegershausen, Florida Gulf Coast University
            Emma Brewster, Real Food Challenge 
            Alana Chriest, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, University of Vermont
            Keo Corak, Macalester College, University of Wisconsin-Madison
            Zach Fleig, The Evergreen State College
            Anna Hankins, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
            Claire Hannapel, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
            Evelina Knodel, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
            Fiona Mattson, University of California-Davis
            Abby McIntosh, Indiana University-Bloomington
            Hannah Weinronk, Real Food Challenge



The Real Food Standards Council could not have revised the standards without the patience, wisdom, and candid pragmatism of our leadership team. Co-chairs Emma Brewster, Anna Hankins, Hannah Weinronk and Zach Fleig worked many early morning hours, often late into the night (to accommodate student schedules) to help orient, support, challenge and guide the Standards Council in engaging with this revision and produce the powerful standards before you today. 


We also wish to thank our diverse, skillful and generous team of advisors. These people shared key insights throughout the process, often around tough questions, that shaped the Real Food Standards. In addition to the list of formal advisors listed below, we would like to thank the 100+ stakeholders who offered input through informal interview or the public comment forum. This included farmers, ranchers, fishermen, industry experts, advocates, campus dining staff, students, and foodservice management companies (Aramark, Bon Appétit, Chartwells, Sodexo).

  • Hillary Bisnett — National Procurement Director, Health Care Without Harm
  • Alexa Delwiche — Executive Director, The Center For Good Food Purchasing
  • Rosalinda Guillen — Executive Director, Community to Community Development
  • Kari Hamerschlag — Deputy Director of the Food and Technology Program, Friends of the Earth
  • Denis Hayes — Chair, Earth Day Network
  • Angela Huffman — Communications & Special Projects Manager, White Oak Pastures
  • Colleen McKinney — Associate Director, Center for Good Food Purchasing
  • Lucy Norris — Director of Regional Food Systems, Ag innovations (formerly)
  • Chris Pelton — STARS Program Manager, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
  • Joann Lo — Co-Director, Food Chain Workers Alliance
  • Urvashi Rangan — Executive Director, Food Safety and Sustainability Center, Consumer Reports (formerly)
  • Alison Streacker — Fairtrade America and CLAC - Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Pequeños Productores y Trabajadores de Comercio Justo
  • Laura Sylvester — M.P.H. and M.P.P.A. candidate, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Sapna Thottathil — Senior Associate of Supply Chain Programming, School Food FOCUS
  • Brett Tolley — Community Organizer and Policy Advocate, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance

Real Food Challenge Staff and Steering Committee

The staff and student steering committee of the Real Food Challenge offered invaluable input, institutional memory and vision for the future. We would like to thank particular members for their active involvement with the standards revision, and to thank everyone for your insights and vision throughout the process.

2016 Steering Committee: Emily Evans, Sawson Gholami, Sunny Kim, Abby McIntosh, Elizabeth Wilkes, Nina Mukherji, David Schwartz, Anim Steel, Tlaloc Vasquez, Stephanie Yee

Staff: Emma Brewster, Lindsay Guthrie, Anna Hankins, Emma Hutchens, Katie LeBlanc, Amanda Jacir, Sarah Beth Lardie, Rosie Linares-Diaz, Nina Mukherji, Estefanía Narváez, David Schwartz, Anim Steel, Sam Viotti, Hannah Weinronk, Tlaloc Vasquez

Testing Cohort

Thank you to the students who piloted Real Food Standards 2.0 this summer, sharing critical feedback to strengthen the standards:
        Angela Babb, Indiana University
        Teresita Liebel, Lehigh University
        Sarah Manning, Johns Hopkins University
        Haley Molnar, Towson University
        Molly Ellen Schubert, The New School

Former advisors and working group members

The Real Food Standards 2.0 was built upon many years of learning and vision on behalf of students and advisors who were involved with developing, updating, and supporting the Real Food Calculator over the past eight years. We would like to thank all of them for the foundation they created for these new standards.

Real Food Challenge is a national student campaign dedicated to creating a healthy, just and sustainable food system. Our goal is to shift $1 billion in institutional food spending to 'real food.'