University of California President Janet Napolitano today (Oct. 22) announced her support for the launching of several projects as part of UC’s Global Food Initiative.

The projects, developed by multicampus working groups, range from efforts that will increase local food security to those that will enhance efforts to leverage UC research to inform and affect public policy. The announcement coincides with UC’s participation in Food Day, Oct. 24, which encourages Americans to change their diets and push for improved food policies.

“The University of California is committed to helping put the world on a path to sustainably and nutritiously feed itself through the UC Global Food Initiative,” Napolitano said. “The initiative’s efforts start at home, on our campuses and in our local communities. That is why we are launching projects that will enhance student food pantries, advance campus farms and gardens, and help K-12 school districts develop healthy and sustainable dining options.”

The first-phase projects will receive funding totaling nearly $500,000, provided from the President’s Initiative Fund. The funding will support early-stage efforts of the UC Global Food Initiative, helping UC to identify best practices related to curriculum, operations, research, policy development and outreach and to develop toolkits to implement them. These toolkits will be shared throughout the UC system — at its campuses, medical centers and national laboratories — and offered to schools and communities in California and across the country.

The food initiative projects come as UC’s 10 campuses celebrate Food Day this week with a full plate of activities, including lectures, discussions, film screenings, farmers markets, food demonstrations and special dining menus.

For example, four UC campus dining organizations — Berkeley, UCLA, San Diego and Santa Cruz — will jointly host dinners Oct. 24 highlighting the availability of fresh and local ingredients and products in California and showcasing sustainable and nutritious foods served regularly by the campuses. UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Davis Health System, UC Irvine, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz will be among those having Food Day farmers markets or farm stands. All UC students, faculty and staff are encouraged to take the UC Eats Real Food Day pledge to eat foods that are healthy, minimally processed and prepared in a sustainable and humane way.

Napolitano, together with UC’s 10 chancellors, launched the Global Food Initiative in July. The initiative aims to put the world on a path to sustainably and nutritiously feed itself. By building on existing efforts and creating new collaborations among UC’s 10 campuses, affiliated national laboratories and the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the initiative will develop and export solutions for food security, health and sustainability throughout California, the United States and the world.

The Global Food Initiative projects will help further advance UC’s leadership in food policy and practices. Funded projects include:

  • A California Higher Education Food Summit to convene stakeholders from across the state to discuss food security, access and partnerships.
  • A seed funding program for UC campuses to implement or improve their food pantry systems and support services for students, based on best practices identified in the system.
  • Workshops on developing student experiential learning on campuses, such as campus farms and gardens.
  • Two systemwide lecture series — one on healthy students, healthy campuses and healthy communities, and the other on food equity.
  • A project to develop best practices and workshops on how to leverage UC research related to food and agriculture to inform or affect public policy.
  • A project to assess food security for UC students in order to better design programs and outreach efforts focused on addressing these issues.
  • A Food from the Sea Summit to highlight research on fisheries and aquaculture throughout the UC system and develop new multicampus research collaborations.
  • Development of a toolkit of resources to support school districts in providing healthy and sustainable dining options, and conducting farm-to-school tours for policymakers to show best practices for introducing healthy, sustainable options in cafeterias of K-12 school districts.
  • Development of best practices to establish and run successful campus farmers markets at UC locations.