SAFE: University of Oklahoma Commits to Buying More Just and Sustainable Food

Students Against a Factory-farming Economy (SAFE)



Bridget Burns: bridgetburns92, 405-819-5781

Monique Rodriquez: natashamrodriquez, 702-292-5929


Sooners Look Forward to More Local, Fair, Humane, and Ecologically Sound Choices in Dining Halls

Norman, OK – This past Friday, the University of Oklahoma signed the Real Food Challenge Campus Commitment, using the university’s tremendous purchasing power to support a healthy food system that strengthens the local economy, respects human rights, protects farm animals, and ensures ecological sustainability.

“I am proud that the students and administration at the University of Oklahoma are collectively working toward a more just food system,” said Monique Rodriguez, President of Students Against a Factory Farming Economy (SAFE) at the University of Oklahoma. “The shift toward real food at our university will touch more than the lives of students who eat on campus.”

Since 2012, SAFE has worked in conjunction with Real Food Challenge to campaign for a more just

and sustainable food system on campus. Real Food Challenge is a national student led campaign to shift $1 billion of existing university food budgets away from factory farms and junk food and toward local, fair, humane, and ecologically sound food sources by 2020. SAFE members have been actively working to enact Real Food Challenge’s primary program, the Real Food Campus Commitment, a presidential pledge to spend 20 percent of dining budgets on ethical food sources by 2020.

The signing of the Campus Commitment this past Friday has been greeted by enthusiasm both at the University of Oklahoma and in the state’s agricultural community.

Sofiane El Afghani, an exchange teacher at the University of Oklahoma said, “ As a Frenchman I’ve always been taught to respect food, whether at school or at home. And respect starts with knowing where your food comes from, its human cost, and how to eat it. Changing the relationship between students and their basic biological need will change their experience at OU and in life for the best.”

“This is good news for Oklahoma farmers and their communities.” Paul Muegge, a farmer and retired state senator, said. “We have witnessed the demise of family agriculture because the industrial model of food production. We must support and maintain diverse food systems, and growing this will take consumers support. I compliment the University of Oklahoma for taking the Real Food Challenge, and I am grateful for those of you that have made this possible.”

University of Oklahoma Professor, Dr. Julia Ehrhardt, explained that this commitment will also make strides in education around food. “The President’s pledge to adopt the steps outlined in the Real Food

Commitment indicates that education about the food we eat and where it comes from is no longer an option but a requirement for all.”

Collaboration both on campus and with local and national allies have been critical for gaining support for the Real Food Campus Commitment, and will continue to be part of the process of enacting this goal.

“Signing the Commitment would not have been possible without the support and initiative of OU Housing & Food.” SAFE founder, Bridget Burns, explained. “Dave Annis and Kevin Blake have been open and supportive throughout this process. This document is a way for SAFE and OU Housing and Food to work together and to explicitly state our commitment to a higher standard.”

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) also applauds the university’s decision and will help the university connect with traditional family farmers who make animal welfare a priority.

The University of Oklahoma is the 32 nd university in the country, and the first in the Big 12 to sign on to the Real Food Challenge. The university serves over 18,000 meals per weekday and has an annual food purchasing budget of over $7 million. The Real Food Challenge initiative will shift at least $1.5 million dollars per year toward sustainable and just food sourcing.

The purpose of the Students Against a Factory-farming Economy (SAFE) is to promote and create a just and sustainable food system both at local and national levels. SAFE advocates for increasing local and community based farms and farmers, improving food service worker conditions, decreasing pollution and waste produced by factory-farms, and eliminating animal cruelty in food production. The Organization welcomes students of all dietary practices (vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, etc.).