You are here

Real Food Challenge

Real food challenge

The Real Food Challenge (RFC) is a national campaign to encourage campuses to increase the ratio of food purchased from "conventional" to "real food".  The Office of Sustainability is working with Lehigh Dining Services and Sodexo to take on this challenge in support of the national goal of 20% Real Food by 2020.

Real food can be defined by four categories:
Local: Food sourced from a 150-250 mile radius of campus.
Fair: Food that can be certified as Fair Trade which confirms that employees of the company have living wages, right to benefits, equal pay etc.
Ecological: Food that is grown in a way that is safe for the consumer, producer and planet. This includes certifications such as USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance, etc.
Humane: Food sourced from animals that have been treated in a humane fashion. This includes certifications such as Animal Welfare Approved by Animal Welfare Institute.


Using the Real Food Challenge Calculator, students analyzed invoices from campus dining areas for foods that are Local, Fair, Ecological and Humane to determine the percent of the food budget that is being spent on real food. This percentage is broken into the two categories of Real Food A; foods that meet two or more of the four real food criteria, and Real Food B: foods that meet one or more of the real food criteria. The percent of real food A is included within the percent of Real Food B.

The first submission based on food purchases from the 2013-2014 academic year resulted in 2-3% of Rathbone Dining Hall's food being considered Real Food B. 

   First Assessment 2013-2014 Results


The second submission was based on food purchases from the 2014-2015 academic year in Rathbone Dining Hall and Stabler Arena. This second assessment resulted in 10% of the total being "real food", with 10% as Real Food B, and 1% of that as Real Food A. This second assessment was a great improvement from the first assessment, and displays the commitment that Dining Services has given to this project and to the goal of increasing the amount of sustainable food that is consumed on campus.

Second Assessment 2014-2015 Results


The third assessment is currently in progress and will focus on the 2015-2016 academic year in Rathbone Dining Hall and Lower Court Dining Hall.


The results from our report allows Dining Services to identify focus areas for improvements, such as the new partnership Lehigh Dining has with the Common Market of Philadelphia to increase the amount of food that is purchased from local farms.

Click Here to see all of Lehigh Dining Service's commitments to sustainability!

Eat More Real Food at Home Too!

Bethlehem Farmers Market

Buy Local Greater Lehigh Valley