Real Food Hopkins

Group: Real Food Hopkins

Category of Group: Special Interest, Advocacy and Awareness, Community Service

Year Founded: 2010

Name: Raychel S.

Position: Co-President

About the group: Real Food Hopkins was founded last fall as a collaborative effort between student gardeners, activists, foodies, and everyone in between in order to create a cohesive group of students dedicated to bringing local, sustainable, humane, and fair food to the Johns Hopkins campus and the surrounding Baltimore area. As part of the global food sustainability movement, we are a chapter of the national Real food Challenge organization (visit for more information). Through hosting food advocacy and awareness events, cooperating with other organizations in the larger food movement, maintaining a sustainable campus garden, promoting community-based learning about food and where it comes from, and donating fresh produce acquired to organizations that feed the local hungry (such as JHU Campus Kitchens), we are very actively involved in many aspects of food sustainability!

Events: In addition to weekly meetings, during which we plan the events and goals that our group hopes to accomplish, we also have various gardening sessions on the weekends during the harvest season, special events (often featuring faculty or other expert speakers), and meetings with JHU Dining services. We also try to host an event during or around Green Week (in the fall) and Earth Week (in the spring) in order to strengthen the relationship between our group and other “green” clubs on campus.

If you’re interested in the garden aspect of the club, we plant many vegetables and some fruits in our small organic garden. Last year’s harvest included lots of greens, tomatoes, beans, squash, garlic, onions, and more. Most of our organic produce is donated to Campus Kitchens, though we do keep some of it for ourselves. :-)

Some of the events that we hosted and/or participated in last fall include a canning/”jam” session (during which JHU Medical School professor Dr. Marta Hanson demonstrated how to can and preserve fresh fruits and vegetables), film documentary screenings (we watched “Fresh” and brought home-made “real” food dishes, as well as attended screenings by other Baltimore food activists), meetings with JHU Dining Services in order to help promote the national “Meatless Monday” campaign on Homewood’s campus, and garden harvest parties.

This spring, we have already accomplished a whole slew of exciting activities. On Monday, February 14, we hosted a Meatless Monday promotion event in collaboration with JHU Dining Services and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future, which featured celebrity chef and author of the “Meatlover’s Meatless Cookbook,” Kim O’Donnel at Nolan’s (a campus eatery located in sophomore dorms called Charles Commons). Kim demonstrated one of her favorite meatless meals braised winter squash with black bean sauce, bok choy, and coconut rice in front of students and Nolan’s also featured 6 other of her famous recipes for purchase that evening. Around ten of us are also planning to attend the Northeast Food Summit in Boston, MA at the end of February to network with other university groups and learn new ideas for future endeavors!

Why I got involved?: When I started reading and watching more about the food system and its relationship with environmental sustainability over the past few years, I began growing very passionate about the subject. I had no idea, however, that this interest would lead me to helping found an entirely new student group in my freshman year of college! After learning about the Real Food Challenge from the Food, Inc. website, I decided to attend a leadership training conference last summer, which led to my involvement in the cause and brought me to JHU with some solid ideas for change. After meeting current student gardeners, particularly Co-President Ian Osborne, who wanted to expand and reach out to more students and faculty, we decided to collaborate and form Real Food Hopkins! In just a few months time, our group has accomplished so much and I can honestly say I have met so many incredible movers and shakers in the food-related JHU community because of my involvement. I look forward to seeing all of the exciting places our group and its members will go in the next few years!

Can freshmen join?: Of course! In fact, most of our founding members are freshmen which is a great way to keep our group thriving for many years to come. Moreover, freshman offer an important perspective and hold significant influence in our meetings with JHU Dining Services because they are the most affected by dining policies. From learning how to harvest fresh produce in our sustainable garden (trust me, no experience is required. I myself had never grown a fruit, vegetable, or other type of food in my life before this year) to planning food advocacy and awareness events, everyone is welcome to see where their passion, energy and skills may lead them in this exciting new movement! I hope you will join us!