Wilson Commons Wednesday featured the “Harvest of Rochester,” which reflected the changes that Dining Services has made in an effort to achieve their goal of sustainability.

“On a number of fronts, we are working on taking a larger role in the issue of sustainability,” Director of Campus Dining Services Cameron Schauf said. “This Wilson Commons Wednesday featured local products and those partnerships.”

Roasted turkey with cranberry relish, roasted carrots and sauted spaghetti squash were featured and free apples from local farmers were handed out. This meal represents the progress that has been made through partnership with the Farm to School Program. This program is nationwide, with a goal of partnering local farmers with colleges and dining programs to work together to build an economic relationship.

“We figured we have a great resource here in Upstate New York,” Aramark Guest Service Manager David Feist said. “Not only are we going to be doing this for special events, but we want to put a local food area somewhere on campus, like Danforth.”

Students really enjoyed the local produce featured.

“All the food featured was so good,” sophomore Emily Dunstan said. “I think the sustainability program is a really good initiative that students will respond really well to.”

Dining Services is in the process of developing a sustainability mission statement.

“As a department, we are currently writing what our goals are,” Schauf said. “Overall, we’re looking at the big issues – becoming greener and how we can become more involved in buying locally.”

This mission statement will provide the framework to make important decisions regarding sustainability.

“We have already increased the level of organic foods, we offer fair trade coffees and we now have the mug refill program,” Schauf said.

The Farm to School Program is not only focused on buying more local products, but also on educating customers about the program and its goals to promote healthy eating and improved nutrition.

A table was set up in Wilson Commons yesterday to provide students with educational fliers about sustainability.

“For us, it’s an evolving thing,” Schauf said. “It is hard to say sustainability isn’t a big issue, because it is. We need to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations. This is not just a little program we do on the side to keep people happy.”

This summer, Dining Services met with representatives from the Cornell University Farm to School Program – where the program was started – which is when many of these changes began.

“A month ago, they started putting us in touch with local farmers,” Feist said. “Another part of sustainability is the farmers working with us. For example, if we know we’re going to have a huge calling for carrots we can ask them to plant more. It is a give and take relationship.”

This is an issue that will continue to develop as Dining Services builds on their relationship with local farmers.

“This is not just encompassing Dining Services, but the whole realm of UR,” Feist said. “With the local farmers and businesses, we have a great market to expand on this.”

Paret can be reached at eparet@campustimes.org

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