Northeastern President Joseph Aoun recently took to Twitter to announce the University’s commitment to purchasing at least 20 percent of their food from local, fair and sustainable sources by 2020. With that pledge publicly made, Northeastern became Boston’s first higher education institution to join the Real Food Challenge.

Spun from Boston-based nonprofit The Food Project, the Real Food Challenge has grown into a national campaign targeted at turning colleges and universities into a participating part of the healthy, fair and green food economy.

The pilot program will kick off this fall at Northeastern’s International Village dining hall. Students will be working alongside Dining Services with a “Real Food Calculator” in hand to analyze food purchase invoices over a one-month span.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, Dining Services offered more than 165,000 pounds of locally grown produce, according to [email protected].

Student organizations, such as Slow Food NU and the Progressive Student Alliance, have been in talks with officials for months about tackling the Challenge on campus. Northeastern will also offer an accredited course next semester focused on Northeastern’s involvement in the movement.

Maureen Timmons, Northeastern’s director of dining services, commended the students, telling [email protected], “We  give the students a lot of credit for their commitment to the issue and for working so closely with us.”