Vermont Climate Collaborative
UVM Celebrates Food Day with Local Menus Across Campus, Panel Discussion
- By Jeffrey R. Wakefield
UVM celebrated Food Day, a national event held Oct. 24 promoting local, sustainably produced food, in style: by serving an array of Vermont-grown menu items for lunch and dinner at all 12 on-campus dining facilities.
The day also featured a panel discussion on the impacts of purchasing local food with panelists from the Intervale Center, Black River Produce, Mad River Food Hub, Vermont Food Venture Center, Sunrise Orchards and Sodexo.
UVM served more than 650 pounds of Vermont meat and vegetables alone. In all, about 15 suppliers throughout the state were represented, ranging from Putney Pasta in Brattleboro to Sugarman maple syrup in Hardwick. Menu choices ranged from orange and fennel porchetta with Vermont chevre polenta and roasted baby turnips at Brennan’s Pub to Vermont Highland Cattle Company meatloaf with Grafton smoked cheddar and gravy roasted rutabaga, mashed potatoes and local squash at Harris Millis.
UVM’s version of Food Day was designed to raise awareness among students of the university’s year-round commitment to local growers, as well as to celebrate and promote the benefits of local food, according to Caylin McKee, sustainability coordinator for University Dining Services, which spearheaded Food Day at UVM in partnership with the Real Food Working Group and Slow Food UVM. McKee graduated from UVM with a degree in environmental studies in May.
“It's bringing awareness to the students about the initiatives we have, because sometime they aren’t seen,” she said. “It’s hard to label where the carrots in the soups are coming from every day, and tell people that we actually do have a significant amount of real food on campus. So it’s to raise awareness and to have a celebration. It’s the Earth Day equivalent for real food.”
Cara D’Anello, a first-year dietetics major, who ate a lunch of creamy butternut squash and apple soup made with Vermont ingredients at the Marché, resonated with the cause. Local food is “basically the only thing I can trust because you don’t know where your other food is coming from,” she said. “And it just feels like you’re closer to the community when you’re eating local food.”
Last spring UVM became only the fifth school in the country to sign on to the Real Food Challenge, committing to serve 20 percent “real food” – defined as locally grown, fair trade, of low environmental impact and/or humanely produced – by 2020. Currently, between nine and 12 percent of the food UVM serves is “real,” depending on the season and semester.
Food Day is a nationwide event that celebrates the movement for more sustainable, healthy and affordable food. Communities around the country host events to celebrate progress that has been made in the food system, as well as to discuss other changes that can be made to continue moving forward. The goal of Food Day is to promote ways in which food is produced with care for the environment, animals and the people who grow, harvest and serve it.