On the American University campus in Washington, D.C., a movement is growing to make the university accountable for food sustainability—and it begins with the workers who cook and serve our food.
Students are working with the food service workers union UNITE HERE to demand not only “real food” but also “real jobs” on AU’s campus.
Our Real Food, Real Jobs campaign is part of a citywide movement to bring a sustainable food system to campuses. Students are organizing at six other universities in the D.C. area: Trinity, Gallaudet, Howard, George Washington, Georgetown, and Georgetown Law, and gaining momentum at Catholic University.
Currently, all six universities’ food service workers are unionized with UNITE HERE Local 23, and several, including AU, are in contract bargaining. Catholic University will begin negotiations in a few months.
“Sustainability” has become a catch-all term to describe food that has an ethical dimension—for the farmer, animal, consumer, or environment. These days, farmers, environmentalists, economists, and even parents and students are talking about what global warming, rising food and fuel prices, and the corporatization of agriculture mean for the world’s future. But for too long, the sustainability movement has ignored food service workers.