I entered an unfamiliar room for the Florida Food Policy Council (FLFPC) meeting last weekend, feeling tired and unsure of what to expect. In an attempt to cure one of my afflictions, I took a leisurely stroll to the complimentary coffee located at the back of the room. During my journey, I studied the faces of those around me. Demographically, nothing could piece the diverse crowd together.
“It’s such a lovely thing that we all care about the current state of food in Florida,” I thought to myself.
After the caffeine struck, I remembered why I thought food activism is a worthwhile cause in the first place. “It’s so lovely that we are all here, trying to make a difference in something that affects everyone,” I corrected myself. What followed was an insightful day of brainstorming through sharing human experience.
At the start of the meeting, we were all told to share some food memories and dreams. This transformed the personal into political, laying down a theme for the entire meeting. It did not matter that I’m not a farmer or a politician or a restaurant owner. It did not matter that I am young with a spark of interest, but lack formal knowledge. It was clear that my voice mattered in the discussion. I have had experiences with food, therefore I have insight.
The perspective I am afforded comes along with being a student who has realized institutional flaws firsthand. From public elementary schools to state colleges and universities, single companies have a monopoly on food. As such, options are limited. Access to food that is simultaneously healthy, affordable, and sustainable is a rarity. Members of learning institutions are not considered with concern; they are treated as customers with a single option—unhealthy, low-cost food at a high price. When feeding our educators and future generation, the food should be conducive to teaching and learning.
Food in schools is one dilemma among many within our current food system. Despite the negativity, I am not saddened. Rather, I’m inspired to make sure our current reality does not linger into the future. I am a proud member of the FLFPC because I believe enough passionate people ready to fight the status quo can enact real change.