Students Launch Nationwide Campus Food Co-op Project

Two years ago, the Ecology Center highlighted the fledgling efforts of this group at the Sustainability Summit. In two years, it has taken off to be something much, much bigger. Read on to see how students nationwide are joining the movement to change campus food.

Campus Food Co-op Project Launches Nationwide, Empowering College Students to Create Sustainable Food Alternatives, With Support from Michael Pollan and Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben, Michael Pollan and Slow Food USA president Josh Viertel are part of the launch committee helping the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive, or CoFed, empowering students to establish co-ops serving ethically-sourced and sustainable food on college campuses nationwide.

In 2011, new food co-ops are opening this semester at several US universities, and students are planning to create the first campus food co-op located in Washington, DC. In addition, CoFed is putting to work six new regional directors, who this January held the group’s first national training and leadership retreat, for student teams from over a dozen colleges and universities.

CoFed grew out of a campaign that successfully blocked the first fast food chain restaurant from opening on the University of California’s Berkeley campus. The Berkeley student food co-op opened instead on November 15th and in 2010 alone, six teams on the west coast began working on doing the same at their own schools, from Santa Barbara to Seattle.

In January, students completed CoFed’s national training with new skills and momentum to tackle the challenge of changing their campus food. “During this retreat, CoFed provided me with the knowledge and support system that my university needs to bring local, nutritious and ethically produced food on our campus,” said UC Riverside Food Cooperative member Elizabeth Tizcareno. “Now, my team and I are going back to create a persuasive business plan and promote the food cooperative to our student body.”

“We are all here because we are unsatisfied with the food options on our campuses,” said Smith College student Katie Dvorsky, a participant in the training. “CoFed is giving us the support and inspiration that we need to create alternative dining options on our campuses, strengthening the global movement for environmentally and socially conscious food.”

Complete with experts ready to help students with everything from retail and dealing with legal issues and incorporation to recruiting and retaining cooperative members, CoFed “will train a new generation of leaders with experience creating good, clean, fair food businesses and a new generation of eaters who believe in the power of community,” says Josh Viertel.

“Colleges around the country are figuring out that they educate their students three times a day about either good food or bad – about a world where local matters, or where food is just a plate full of calories to get you through class. CoFed has the potential to be a crucial part of that process,” adds Bill McKibben.

Media Contact – Jeff Genauer, CoFed Media Coordinator:

Interviews with CoFed regional organizers and student leaders are available upon request. Meet the regional organizers here:

Follow CoFed on Twitter: @TheCoFed

On Facebook:


The media spotlight is on CoFed! Listen to KFPA-Berkeley radio’s excellent story on CoFed’s national retreat and launch, featuring insightful interviews with CoFed regional organizers and student activists:

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