Food Systems Working Group

FSWG students at their annual on-farm retreat

Formed in 2003–2004, the Food Systems Working Group (FSWG) is a student-led organization that has included UCSC students, staff, faculty, and community members. FSWG works to bring sustainably grown food produced by socially responsible operations to campus dining halls and through a collaborative process, promote education and awareness of our food system. Over time FSWG has incubated a range of projects as student voices have called attention to the intersectional relationship of food, culture, power, and equity. To this end FSWG works across experiential learning sites, curates open pollinated organic seeds for student gardens, partners on food security and basic needs efforts, and hosts outreach events to build our village, while continuing to work with Dining to improve our supply chain. 

Find out more about FSWG and how you can get involved!

FSWG has served to bring together students passionate about making constructive changes to our campus and community food system. It has become an autonomous student organization committed to collaborative efforts to promote change across the food system through input, planning and action. FSWG has been centered within CASFS, serving as the home for student organizing within CASFS, and bridge-building between the center and the campus community. FSWG has hosted a wide variety of student organizations and projects, and currently contains a balance of land-based student projects, student activist projects, and student leaders focused on addressing food insecurity on our campus. 

FSWG is comprised of the following projects and groups:

Real Food Calculator

The Real Food Calculator is a revolutionary tool students use to audit their campus’ dining purchasing. Built around our Real Food Standards, the Real Food Calculator is still the first and only web application of its kind - students collect invoices from their school’s dining manager, research the invoice line items against our Standards, and input their research into our Calculator application, which analyzes their campus’ purchasing patterns.

Demeter Seed Library

The Demeter Seed Library's mission is to preserve and breed locally adapted cultivars and seed varieties in California Central Coast. Our objective is to help gardeners and farmers access seeds and educate youth and community members about the importance of biodiversity in our agricultural systems. The library is located in room 307 of the Oakes Administration building at UCSC.

Rachel Carson College Garden (RCCG)

A student-run campus garden focusing on the key concepts of organic agriculture including soil maintenance, food systems, and "learning by doing." RCCG is located behind the Rachel Carson College Dining Hall, next to the field and bridge to Family Student Housing.

Program in Community & Agroecology (PICA)

PICA is an educational program focused on experiential learning, sustainability and food systems. PICA students grow their own food together, share meals, and explore ways to live more sustainably. PICA is located at the entrance to the Village at the UCSC.

PICA's primary academic mission is to engage students with sustainability through practical experience and the sharing of community based knowledge. Emerging themes of discussion include but are not limited to: power dynamics (racism, classism, sexism, etc.), lack of representation, knowledge validation, staff and student relationships (student autonomy), student accountability, and intentional inclusivity. PICA will offer a unique space to students of color in an effort to avoid, mitigate, and eliminate racism, classism, tokenization, white privilege, oppression, marginalization, identity policing, and space policing in historically white garden spaces, and take steps towards accountability, truth telling and positive change.

Through practical training in agroecology and organic gardening, student involvement in campus and community gardens, and the development of local composting projects, PICA students are able to integrate agroecological principles of sustainability, food production, food justice, and social justice into everyday life. In doing so, PICA students will be better prepared to work for tangible change in the food system outside of an academic setting.

Check out PICA’s personal WIX website: 

Through our website you will be able to find ways to get involved, learn about our student leaders, read our weekly blog posts, or simply check out photos from our garden space

You can also stay connected with us on our social media sites, where we post about our blog posts, weekly documentary nights, collaborations with other organizations (quarterly raffles!), as well as more pictures from our garden space! 

You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest. You can also email us at if you have any questions!

Food Access and Basic Needs Team

FSWG’s Food Access & Basic Needs team includes a number of students working with a myriad of organizations and groups working to address food insecurity at UCSC, including 4 Produce Pop-Up Coordinators, 4 Cowell Coffee Shop Co-leads, 1 Cowell Coffee Shop Programming Lead, 1 Basic Needs Communication Lead, 2 folks from the Slug Support Ambassador Program: Pantry Ambassador & CalFresh Ambassador, 4 Slugs in the Kitchen Coordinators, 3 Farm to Campus Field students.