Real Food Challenge

In October 2014, Occidental became the 27th national signatory to the Real Food Challenge Campus Commitment, with a goal of purchasing 30% sustainable food by the year 2020. Here's how we did:

In the 2018-2019 academic year, Oxy's Own Dining Service purchased 29% Real Food, just one point away from our goal of 30%! The 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years were disrupted greatly by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the 2018-19 school year serves as our best example of how Oxy prioritizes real food purchasing. For updates on the 2020-21 school year, read our 2021 Food at Oxy Resource Guide. 

You can help us get back on track! Look for signage in the dining facilities, and choose the products that are labeled "Sustainably Sourced!"  We want you to understand the power of voting for sustainable food with your dining purchases. You can do this by choosing items tagged with our "Sustainably Sourced" logo, and by supporting these weekly sustainable meals:

  • Monday and Friday SLO (Sustainable Local Organic) Lunches
  • Meatless Monday Dinners at Chefs Corner
  • Wednesday Night Organic Potato Bar
  • Thursday Night Organic Bar
  • Saturday Brunch Sustainable Smoothie Bar 

Visit our Suppliers page to learn more about how we source our food.

Contribute to the annual update of the Food Resource Guide - a publication of the Food Systems Working Group. Please contact Isa Merel ( if you have questions about the Guide or would like to contribute.

View 2020 Food Resource Guide

Purchasing We're Proud Of - Highlights from our Real Food Challenge Report Card (2018-2019): 

  • 29% Overall Real* Food - This year's percentage is 3 points higher than the 2017-2018 academic year! 

  • 41%  Real Produce - An 6 point increase!

    • Much of our produce is sourced from local, family-owned farms through our supplier Harvest Santa Barbara

    • We also buy entirely organic produce for many meals, including the weekly Local and Organic Bar, and Organic Potato Bar 

    • We feature local and organic spring mix from Kenter Canyon on our salad bar, and the cherry tomatoes, tofu, and carrots are always certified organic

    • Our whole fruit is sustainably sourced, local and/or organic

  • 77% Real Coffee and Tea - A 12 point increase!

    • At the Marketplace, we feature organic locally roasted options from Groundwork Coffee, owned and operated by an Oxy alumnus, and Rishi fair trade/organice teas 

    • The Green Bean also predominantly features organic and fair trade coffee

    • Bottled/canned coffee in all facilities is sustainably sourced according to Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, or Organic standards.

  • 67% Real Seafood

    • This is primarily attributable to the wildly popular salmon in the Marketplace, obtained from Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch approved sources

  • 83% Real Eggs - A 24 point increase from last academic year!

    • Oxy now sources all shell and liquid eggs from Wilcox Farms

  • 10% Real Meat - a 7 point increase!

    • Although there aren't many humane meat suppliers that have enough volume at low enough costs for our dining facilities, this percentage increase reflects the probable upward trend in our meat sustainable procurement!

    • The Better Burgers Sunday nights at the Grill featured local, grass-fed beef from Parkfield, CA.

  • 12% Real Dairy - an 8 point increase!

    • It is quite challenging to find local and organic dairy sources that do not use CAFOs or GMOs, so although some might consider the local dairy we use as sustainable, it is not Real Food Compliant. 

*The Real Food Challenge defines 'Real Food' as:

  • Local and Community Based: Grown/produced within 250 miles of Oxy and comes from a small business. Items made locally must also contain 51% organic ingredients to qualify.

  • Ecologically Sound: Organic, responsibly managed (fisheries), or certified by a legitimate third party environmental certification program. 

  • Humane: Cage free, free range, grass fed, or certified by a legitimate third party animal welfare/humane certification program.

  • Fair Trade: Certified Fair by a legitimate fair certification program (fair wages, working conditions, etc.).

*For a more detailed description of their Guidelines, please refer to the latest version of the Real Food Guide.

RFC's Mission:

"Our primary campaign is to shift $1 billion of existing university food budgets (20%) away from industrial farms and junk food and towards local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources—what we call “real food"—by 2020."

– Real Food Challenge

In the 2018-19 school year, Oxy almost reached our goal of 30% real food by 2020, with 29% of our dining budget going towards real food. As Oxy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Real Food Challenges reassesses its campaign goals, Campus Dining will continue to use RFC metrics to survey our purchasing habits and move back towards our sustainability goals. 

For a more thorough history of the Real Food Challenge at Oxy, refer to our 2020 Food Resource Guide, a publication of the Food Systems Working Group.