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Southeast Youth Food Activist Summit (SYFAS) Conference at UNC-Chapel Hill

In early February, a UNC student group, Fair, Local, and Organic Foods (FLO Foods), hosted its second annual Southeast Youth Food Activist Summit (SYFAS) on campus. In attendance were around 150 students from the Southeast region of the United States, all busy networking and learning about the Real Food Challenge during the day and crashing on area couches at night. According to Southeast Regional Food Organizer Jordan Treakle, the conference focused on food activism and sustainable food policy through the lens of social justice. The feedback he received after the conference was largely positive, and despite torrential rain conference attendance doubled in size from the year before.

The story behind the SYFAS conference begins with the story of FLO Foods, the brainchild of an Environmental Justice course at UNC. The students in the course decided that the most pertinent environmental justice issues facing North Carolina are those of the state hog industry. To address these issues, FLO Foods was founded in 2007 and has since worked to form strong relationships with representatives from Campus Dining Services to supply fair, local, and sustainable food in our dining halls. The process has been slow, but rewarding, as there are now “Green-Themed Meals,” a brand new local and sustainable restaurant in the dining hall, as well as the opportunity for students to request cage-free eggs and local grass-fed beef for their meals.

The creation of FLO Foods and the SYFAS conference was the result of the merging academia with action, and it goes to show just how much change that engaged environmental studies students can enact on campus.

Laura Stephenson is an environmental science major at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, focusing in environmental and community health.

Posted on: April 1, 2010, 4:48 pm Category: Sustainability and Education, The Life of an Environmental Studies Student Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

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