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From August 20 – 23, I attended the last of three Real Food Challenge Trainings that were held across the country this summer in an effort to prepare students to change the on – campus food system this fall.

Young food activists gathered in Santa Cruz, California; Ames, Iowa; and Boston, Massachusetts, to participate in collaborative training sessions that, hopefully, empowered them to return to their schools this fall and do something. Take a stand. Start a conversation. Educate peers. And ultimately, begin to change the food system in some way, big or small.

Students descended on these trainings from various locations, institutions and backgrounds; some new to the food movement as a whole and others with success stories to share. However, the common thread is a firm belief that everyone has a right to good, clean and fair food.

During the course of each training, attendees participated in an array of workshops, which provided background on the issues along with the most important strategies for addressing these concerns. Students brainstormed about the key steps to planning a successful campaign, with particular focus on identifying the drivers and targets. In the end, everyone went away energized and ready to take what they learned, find a crew of like-minded individuals and work to achieve a victory this fall.

And, the tomatoes. The Boston training did not suffer from tomato blight. We ate fresh summer tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everyday. The tomatoes added not only to each meal, but also to conversations with Meghan Cohorst from the Student/Farmworker Alliance about ways to connect the Dine with Dignity campaign to the Real Food Challenge. Food for thought? Certainly.