EAT WITH YOUR TRIBE
Igniting a food & cultural revolution that nourishes our souls and heals our connections to food, other cultures, communities and the earth.
BITES | EAT WITH YOUR TRIBE is a mobile app that connects eaters with local cooks and urban growers for in-home, farm-to-table dining experiences. BITES | EAT WITH YOUR TRIBE fosters community building, economic empowerment through joyful & creative work, exploration of world cultures through cuisines & dining rituals & storytelling, support for urban growers & local economies, inclusiveness of all socio-economic levels, communal dining, mindfulness, hope, and wisdom of the ages.
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Warehouse Apps is the lead applicant organization.
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small company (under 50 employees)
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
Arizona State University
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
United States of America
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Arizona State University (ASU) - main campus located in Tempe, Arizona
What country is your selected Place located in?
United States of America
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
I selected ASU because I'm familiar with it, as an alumna.
ASU is important to me for two reasons: First, as one of the largest and fastest growing universities in the US, it embodies a microcosm of society at large, with a multiplicity of cultures represented. Secondly, as a university that has been nationally recognized as #1 in Innovation & Entrepreneurship for the 5th year in a row, it has fostered a faculty and student body receptive to new perspectives.
Because of the synergies of these two factors, ASU provides an ecosystem ripe for igniting a food and cultural revolution in the USA.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
ASU students on campus
International students at ASU
ASU is one of the largest universities in the US, in terms of both the student population (approx 90,000) and the land area. While ASU has multiple campus locations, the Place we're focusing on for purposes of our vision is the main campus in Tempe, AZ. Tempe is fairly dense, urbanized and has hot summers. Average temperature highs range between 107 F in summer and 69 F in winter. Average temperature lows range between 75 F in summer and 38 F in winter. Average annual rainfall is 9 inches. The city is generally flat and has an elevation of 1,140 ft.
Students attending ASU live both on-campus and off-campus. Those who live on campus tend to eat cafeteria food supplied by Aramark, a Fortune 500 food distributor. Those who live off campus are doing their grocery shopping at major chain grocers like Frys, ordering food from local chains through online delivery services such as Uber Eats, or simply eating out.
It is highly unusual that students are experiencing a sense of connectedness to themselves, to food, and to their communities, or to locally sourced or slow cooked food. Instead, food is seen as fuel from hunger and is consumption-oriented. Much of it is unhealthy, convenience food. Many students experience social isolation, and a sense of loneliness, depression and anxiety.
While there are approximately 11,000 international students, they exist in silos. Korean students congregate with other Korean students, while Indian students congregate with other Indian students, and so on. The vast majority of students have not found an authentic way to bridge the gap between cultures. A very small percentage of international students are currently informally cooking food and selling it to other students from their own culture. None of them seem to be cooking for students outside their own culture.
Within the boundaries of Tempe, there are some small urban growers, yet they are not readily discoverable by students, as these growers don't show up in directories or maps, and don't have signage.
There are a few community gardens on ASU campus, but these are currently not active food sources for students. ASU currently partners with Borderlands, a food bank for rescued produce, yet the produce sold by Borderlands comes from conventional growers, by and large.
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
Currently, our food system at ASU faces many challenges.
Environment: ASU is a university campus, with green lawns, trees, cacti, shrubs, bushes, and flower beds that are watered and maintained by hired staff. The large landscape is almost entirely dedicated to non-edible landscaping.
Diets: Current sustainability efforts and regenerative practices are limited to non-edible plants. Food options on campus do not promote or foster a truly healthy diet, nutrient-rich meals, or mindful eating practices as fast food, fast casual, and conventional cafeteria food are the options available on campus.
Economics: Food is grown elsewhere and trucked in for consumption. As such, the local economy does not get the benefit of monies being injected into it from localized growing and sourcing of food.
Culture: While there are many cultures represented on campus by students, the predominant food options do not reflect the diversity of cultures, world cuisines, and dining rituals represented by the student population.
Technology: Students actively use food delivery services such as UberEats to get fast casual food delivered to them both on and off campus. These services only habituate students in poor eating habits by making convenient unhealthy food that supports industrialized food production.
Policies: Current policies on campus do not require food to be sourced locally, or that food be seasonal food, or even that it be cleanly grown without the massive use of pesticides and herbicides.
By 2050, current challenges will only become compounded. It will not be feasible to grow lawns, shrubs, bushes and flowers on campus as water becomes more scarce and costly, and even as temperatures rise. This will leave the campus barren and lacking in the healing qualities of nature. Even if shade canopies are built, they cannot replace the benefits of a natural green setting. And as obesity continues to rise, student health issues will take on more visibility and become more costly. Unless massive changes move us away from industrial food production, countless generations will grow up obese, sick, and with no real connection to real food, real flavor, or home-cooked food. Limited cuisine offerings on campus will marginalize the growing international student population. Technologies of the future may or may not address systemic solutions to the food system. Food policies that support food being brought in from other regions and parts of the world will not align with the need to become more self-sustaining in terms of how and where we grow food.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
All university landscaping, other than trees, will be turned into sustainable, regenerative, year-round edible food gardens for student consumption, leveraging low-water-usage technologies. These gardens will espouse rotation of crops and biodiversity, to support regenerative soil and to grow foods that represent various world cuisines eaten by the multiplicity of international students. Food waste will be used as compost for these gardens.
The nutritional diets of students and faculty will be powerfully impacted as they'll have ready access to fresh, nutritious meals. As food nourishes our souls as well as our bodies, the overall physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health, moods, and eating habits of the campus population will be positively impacted. By providing students with a health-focused, visually and emotionally healing landscape, ASU will be fostering tangible student-support for sustainability and regenerative practices that follow students beyond the university setting. By growing food on campus, the university will be investing in the health of its population.
With BITES | EAT WITH YOUR TRIBE as an ethos-driven tool in igniting a food & cultural revolution, we will be normalizing communal, farm-to-table meals for all students and faculty. Students with basic cooking skills will be cooking budget-friendly homemade food for other students, sourcing fresh ingredients from campus gardens and from nearby urban growers.
Students will make money cooking for students of other cultures, with the opportunity to share their cultural dining rituals, stories, and histories.
Students will get to interact in authentic, soulful ways over food, building bridges and knocking down silos between various cultures and economic backgrounds.
Mindfulness and healthy connections to food are what BITES | EAT WITH YOUR TRIBE fosters through communal dining experiences that are culturally-immersive and connect the dots between eaters, cooks, and growers in holistic ways.
Our vision is to change food policy at ASU to require that 100% of the fresh food options for students be healthy, clean food grown on campus and/or nearby urban growers, supporting the local economy.
"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi
By igniting a food & cultural revolution at ASU, we seek to inspire, empower, and engage one of the largest student populations in the US to change their own food system in a way that serves as a beacon of hope for the rest of society and causes a ripple effect everywhere.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
BITES | EAT WITH YOUR TRIBE and ASU have co-created the first farm-to-table university in the USA, with students cooking for other students, nourishing them with budget-friendly, home-cooked, healthy food, with the fresh ingredients coming from ASU's campus gardens and from nearby urban growers.
All students are getting an immersion in understanding sustainability and regenerative practices through interaction with these edible gardens. ASU is now home to mini-cultural-immersions through farm-to-table dining experiences provided by students of various cultures. Students have knocked down their cultural silos and now authentically interact with students of other cultures.
Cultural understanding has increased, and with it a sense of integrated community, where students feel connected to the earth, to the nurturing aspects of home-cooked food, and to the richness of diversity, seeing diversity as an asset rather than something to tolerate.
All students, including international students on visas, are now using their basic cooking skills to cook for other students.
Students are eating healthy, fresh food, and water is now used to grow food rather than for non-edible landscaping.
Having a visual landscape has promoted student health, connection to the earth, connection to real food, and connection to students from other cultures who are now sharing their dining rituals, stories, and slow-cooking. This has had a powerful, beneficial impact on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being of the student population, as well as faculty.
This food & cultural revolution has helped alleviate feelings of isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and depression on campus, as communal dining (rather than eating alone) and interaction with edible gardens have become the norm among students, as well as faculty.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
“The meal is the medium through which a community is reproduced on a daily or weekly basis and the preparation of a meal with other people is a manifestation and confirmation of the strong social bonds created around the table.” - Lotte Holm, food sociologist and professor at the University of Copenhagen.
It's 2050 and the university has been transformed into a sustainable, regenerative, edible food landscape. On-campus gardens have espoused rotation of crops and biodiversity, and grow foods that represent world cuisines eaten by the multiplicity of international students. Food waste is used as compost. Nutritional diets of students and faculty have become powerfully impacted with fresh, nutritious food and ethnically diverse, home-cooked meals.
This food nourishes our souls as well as our bodies. The overall physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health, moods, and eating habits of the campus population have become positively impacted. By providing students with a health-focused, visually and emotionally healing landscape, ASU has fostered tangible student-support for sustainability and regenerative practices that are following students beyond the university setting. The university has visibly invested in the health of its population.
BITES | EAT WITH YOUR TRIBE and ASU have collaboratively normalized communal, farm-to-table meals for all students and faculty, as well as for surrounding communities.
Students with basic cooking skills regularly cook budget-friendly food for other students, while sourcing their fresh ingredients from campus gardens and from nearby urban growers. Students are making money using their basic cooking skills to cook for students of other cultures on their own time, with the opportunity to share their cultural dining rituals, stories, and histories. Students are interacting in authentic, soulful ways over food, building bridges after having knocked down silos between various cultures and economic backgrounds.
The healing, spiritual, nourishing, and holistic qualities of homemade food are nourishing the campus environment. Mindfulness and healthy connections to food are readily fostered through communal dining experiences.
Food policy at ASU has changed so that 100% of the fresh food options for students are now healthy, clean food grown on campus and/or nearby urban growers, supporting the local economy.
"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi.
By igniting a food & cultural revolution at ASU, we have inspired, empowered, and engaged one of the largest student populations in the US to change their own food system in a way that continues to serve as a beacon of hope for the rest of society and continues to cause a ripple effect everywhere.
Systems focused approach: In order to effectively change a system as complex as the food system, we imagined a wheel. In order to move forward, at a minimum, a wheel must have 3 spokes (in our case, the eaters, cooks, and growers); otherwise, it will quickly break apart. There must be incentives built into new systems that cause each of the spokes in that wheel to move it forward, similar to a domino-effect.
From a human psychology perspective, the vast majority of people will agree to be a spoke in the wheel if they can see that there's something of value in it for them. Most people will first think "What's in it for me?" and then, if they are a bit more altruistic or empathic, they will seek to understand whether their participation can also benefit other people and the planet as well. Realistically speaking, solutions have to first meet personal needs/wants before they can gain traction. These were the personal needs/wants we provided for.
For the student eaters, we're providing home-cooked food that's healthy and sourced directly from their own campus gardens. We're also exposing them to and enabling them to explore a myriad of world cuisines through mini-cultural dining experiences with cooks of various cultural backgrounds. We're making it budget-friendly as there's no tip, no tax, no service charge, and students provide their own beverages.
For students who have basic cooking skills, we're providing job opportunities on their own terms. Student cooks set their own prices, minimum charges, maximum group size, cuisine offerings, and they decide when they want to cook. These students are their own boss and can generate some money while they're students at ASU (this includes international students on student visas who would otherwise be prohibited from working for an "employer"). These student cooks get to share their enjoyment of cooking, as well as their cultural dining rituals, stories, and histories. They get to creatively collaborate on a menu with the student eater and put together a meal that is nutritious, home-cooked, and hyper-locally sourced from the ASU campus gardens.
For ASU, this transformation has not only garnered it national recognition as a food system changemaker, but also has transformed the perspectives of its entire student population as well as that of the local community as to a healthy ecosystem can be like.
At the highest level, our food system is like a spider web. By strengthening the points of contact between various connection points in the web, we've strengthened the entire spider web. We strengthened the entire food system. The previous spider web of our food system had a truck driven through it. Instead of repairing it or problem solving for it, we spun a new web altogether. We were not suggesting that we go back to the industrial food producers and try to get them to use less pesticides, herbicides or hormones in our food. We were not going to try to get them to clean up their act. We were not going to try to problem-solve. Instead, we envisioned a new system entirely that moved us away from industrialized food production altogether.
Transformative potential: Our vision has transformed one of the largest universities in the USA into a sustainable and regenerative farm-to-table environment. Transformation has come not only in how food is grown, but also in who sees the food being grown, and who interacts with the food being grown. As biodiversity of foods being grown is representative of the various cultures, a celebration of world cultures through cuisines is healing to our social fabric and the connective tissue of what it means to be a true community in support of our shared humanity. The abundance and joy in life comes through in communal dining experiences that are memorable and meaningful and bring us together with our tribes - those who inspire us, those who support us, those who empower us, and allow us to be fullest expression of ourselves. In sharing the intimacy of a meal together, we connect in the most fundamental way as human beings sharing one home, one planet. Our vision has transformed the consumption of food as fuel into a poetic, humanistic, connective, intimately shared experience and has healed our connections to food, other people, communities and the earth.
Community rooted: Our vision is rooted in connecting people within the community in authentic ways that don't feel forced and aren't about anything that polarizes people. Just as nature is rooted in the soil, humans are rooted in a sense of community. By nurturing and planting love and abundance within our communities, we have lit a path of hope, healing, inspiration, and inclusivity that helps people walk toward a healthier, more optimistic future. The community on campus benefits from this vision as students get the home-cooked food, and other students get the jobs, and they are both nourished by the edible gardens on campus.
Inspirational: Our vision for changing the food system has intentionally highlighted a massive university in the USA because has been our belief that change was going to come quickest and most passionately from a student population.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?