Local, Organic, or Cheap Produce in the Diner?

459764_10151155080732649_1882202324_o(2)Greetings from the student-perpetrators of research, more research and proposing a new sustainable food-purchasing policy on campus! Behind the scenes of Dining Services this semester, Hayley Gray and I (Emerson Sample) with the support of the Sustainability Advisory Committee [S.A.C.] have been learning about how Puget Sound buys its food, and how we can do “better.”

Our definition of “better” for this project is comprised of the values of the community as assessed by our campus survey, and those that S.A.C. holds. We are currently compiling data from surveys released in March to asses the values of the community, while S.A.C. stands for the purchasing of local* foods, which is to say food grown in the area, and – if the item is a product like cheese – that it get processed locally as well!

Anyway, we students will be going through invoices (yes, it’s a little bit of dirty work) to look through our food purchases here at Puget Sound to investigate all of the possible areas for improvement in terms of our values as a community. So far, I have discussed that as local, but once all our results are in from the rest of the community, we’ll have a better picture of where we’re headed with our proposal to the university.

20121014-205440Why do you care about this? There are surface-level reasons and not so obvious ones. Surface Level: (a) this project shows that through the people in the Puget Sound community, this school supports sustainability in its food purchasing practices. (b) Students get to pursue interests in conjunction with the school.

Less obvious: (a) Purchasing more from local sources will help local farmers who have organic practices. These farmers are an important piece in our food system. (b) Establishing local purchasing practices as a part of policy will put Puget Sound in the position to be a leader, not a follower, in sustainability within higher education institutes. (c) Because it shows that the university is willing and able to work with students and support their endeavor to tie this school closer to the food system in the Tacoma area. Initiative from individuals is what creates sustainability and food justice action on this campus. When presented with student interest and work power, communications master Barb Weist, marketing director John Hickey, professor Dan Sherman, Dining and Conference services team members Terry Halvorson, Mark Stewart and Kenzie Giusti along with many other faculty and staff of this school have collaborated to help make sure this works out.

THANK YOU to everyone who reads this for your interest, thanks to everyone who has helped out. Here’s to good food, Emerson

*Local is defined as within 250 miles in the STARS program, which is the 3rd party sustainability measurement system this school is using.

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