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130+ Universities Join Movement to Measure Sustainable Dining on Campus
As millions of students receive their college acceptance letters this month and prepare to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives, Real Food Challenge is proud to announce that 134 colleges and universities are now participating in a national, student-designed program—called The Real Food Calculator—to measure and report sustainable food in campus dining.
While quality of cafeteria food has long been a factor in students’ perceptions of campus life, a majority now include a concern for institutional sustainability as a factor in college decisions. “Increasingly we're finding businesses that understand millennials' desire for transparency, authenticity and honesty in marketing—especially when it comes to food,” explains Anim Steel, executive director of Real Food Generation, the program's sponsor. “What's missing are concrete tools and hard numbers to help institutions keep up with an evolving customer base. The Real Food Calculator fills that gap.”
The online tool allows schools to aggregate thousands of food purchasing records and assess their institution’s "real food" score. Student researchers then grade products against a comprehensive set of third party-verified standards for local, fair, ecologically sound and humane food. When completed, The Real Food Calculator offers concrete data on how a campus is currently supporting their community through their food choices—and how they can improve.
The program has won numerous accolades. David Schwartz, who helped develop the Calculator as an undergraduate at Brown University, was recently named one of Forbes 30 under 30 for Social Entrepreneurship, as well as honored by Variety Magazine and VH1 for his work. The Calculator has since been adopted nationwide.
University of Louisville Anthropology Professor Jeneen Wiche, herself a grass-fed livestock/poultry farmer, explains her motivation for joining the program: “The Calculator allows a behind the scenes glimpse of the food system that feeds the University of Louisville. Campus food is what fuels our students, but it can also help support entrepreneurial local food enterprises. The Calculator will allow us to applaud what is being done well and troubleshoot where we fall short. The students become the driving force behind reform.”
With the national rollout of the Real Food Calculator this year:
- 134 universities have joined the program—including Johns Hopkins University, Brown University, UC Berkeley, Indiana University and UNC Chapel Hill
- More than 600 student researchers have reviewed more than 84,297 unique products and $71,059,505 worth of campus food purchases to see if they meet the rigorous "real food" standards
- The average participating school spends $5.18 million on food each year, an average 15 percent of which currently qualifies as "real food"
- 22 schools who participate in the program have also signed the Real Food Campus Commitment—a pledge to increase their real food percentage to 20, 30 or 40 percent by 2020
“This has been an incredible learning experience for students and dining, alike,” said Anna Hankins, a freshman at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. “Using the Calculator, I can now tell you that 81 percent of my school’s seafood comes from sustainable fisheries. And we now know that, compared to other universities, we could source more fair trade items, such as rice—the item we buy the most of. A switch like that would have an exciting economic impact, as well as serve as a campus wide educational tool.”
The Real Food Calculator has been buoyed by the public endorsement of major food service companies Bon Appetit Management Co. and Sodexo USA, which together manage outsourced cafeterias at more than 700 colleges and universities nationwide. Chartwells, one of their primary competitors, has yet to endorse the program.
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Cabin fever is often associated with being cooped up on a rainy weekend or stuck inside during a winter blizzard.
In reality, though, it can actually occur anytime you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world.
What is cabin fever?<p>In popular expressions, cabin fever is used to explain feeling bored or listless because you've been stuck inside for a few hours or days. But that's not the reality of the symptoms.</p><p>Instead, cabin fever is a series of negative emotions and distressing sensations people may face if they're isolated or feeling cut off from the world.</p><p>These feelings of isolation and loneliness are more likely in times of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/yes-covid-19-cases-are-rising-why-you-still-need-to-practice-social-distancing" target="_blank">social distancing</a>, self-quarantining during a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-a-pandemic" target="_blank">pandemic</a>, or sheltering in place because of severe weather.</p><p>Indeed, cabin fever can lead to a series of symptoms that can be difficult to manage without proper coping techniques.</p><p>Cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological disorder, but that doesn't mean the feelings aren't real. The distress is very real. It can make fulfilling the requirements of everyday life difficult.</p>
What are the symptoms?<p>Symptoms of cabin fever go far beyond feeling bored or "stuck" at home. They're rooted in an intense feeling of isolation and may include:</p><ul><li>restlessness</li><li>decreased motivation</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irritability" target="_blank">irritability</a></li><li>hopelessness</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/unable-to-concentrate" target="_blank">difficulty concentrating</a></li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irregular-sleep-wake-syndrome" target="_blank">irregular sleep patterns</a>, including sleepiness or sleeplessness</li><li>difficulty waking up</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/lethargy" target="_blank">lethargy</a></li><li>distrust of people around you</li><li>lack of patience</li><li>persistent <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/depression-vs-sadness" target="_blank">sadness or depression<br></a></li></ul>
What can help you cope with cabin fever?<p>Because cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological condition, there's no standard "treatment." However, mental health professionals do recognize that the symptoms are very real.</p><p>The coping mechanism that works best for you will have a lot to do with your personal situation and the reason you're secluded in the first place.</p><p>Finding meaningful ways to engage your brain and occupy your time can help alleviate the distress and irritability that cabin fever brings.</p><p>The following ideas are a good place to start.</p>
When to get help<p>Cabin fever is often a fleeting feeling. You may feel irritable or frustrated for a few hours, but having a virtual chat with a friend or finding a task to distract your mind may help erase the frustrations you felt earlier.</p><p>Sometimes, however, the feelings may grow stronger, and no coping mechanisms may be able to successfully help you eliminate your feelings of isolation, sadness, or depression.</p><p>What's more, if your time indoors is prolonged by outside forces, like weather or extended shelter-in-place orders from your local government, feelings of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety" target="_blank">anxiety</a> and fear are valid.</p><p>In fact, anxiety may be at the root of some cabin fever symptoms. This may make symptoms worse.</p><p>If you feel that your symptoms are getting worse, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you're experiencing. Together, you can identify ways to overcome the feelings and anxiety.</p><p>Of course, if you're in isolation or practicing social distancing, you'll need to look for alternative means for seeing a mental health expert.</p><p>Telehealth options may be available to connect you with your therapist if you already have one. If you don't, reach out to your doctor for recommendations about mental health specialists who can connect with you online.</p><p>If you don't want to talk to a therapist, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/top-iphone-android-apps" target="_blank">smartphone apps for depression</a> may provide a complementary option for addressing your cabin fever symptoms.</p>
The bottom line<p>Isolation isn't a natural state for many people. We are, for the most part, social animals. We enjoy each other's company. That's what can make staying at home for extended periods of time difficult.</p><p>However, whether you're sheltering at home to avoid dangerous weather conditions or heeding the guidelines to help minimize the spread of a disease, staying at home is often an important thing we must do for ourselves and our communities.</p><p>If and when it's necessary, finding ways to engage your brain and occupy your time may help bat back cabin fever and the feelings of isolation and restlessness that often accompany it.</p>
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