Since the hire of Food Service Manager of Sustainability Programs at Colgate, Deb Hanson, enhancing the sustainability of foods at dining locations on campus has been in full swing. Most recently, the sustainability team has developed a database of all the local foods Sodexo is currently purchasing and looking for ways and partnerships to increase the percentage of local foods we are buying. Hanson has been regularly speaking with Colgate’s food suppliers to keep them updated on our sustainability goals and discover new opportunities for local and sustainable foods. Hanson and sustainability intern, Emily Adams, took a trip to Purdy & Sons foods in Sherburne, NY to meet with suppliers Dan and Vicki Purdy to discuss our sustainability goals, and were given a tour of their meat processing facility. The Purdys’ shared their process of sourcing local meats, produce, and dairy products and their own personal goals of supporting the local economy. Buying locally requires advanced planning and commitments, as unlike buying from large global corporations, food cannot just be ordered and expected to magically show up at Frank’s doors within a few days. Rather, the Purdys have to have an idea of how much product they will require over the year and inform local farmers to raise certain numbers of cattle or acres of corn, for example, they should be growing. The Purdy’s goal is to work with small local farmers and link them with universities and businesses, as these institutions, such as Sodexo at Colgate, cannot buy directly from local producers without having a third party certify them. The Purdy’s next gave the Sodexo sustainability team a tour of the meat facility, where we were able to see workers carefully hand-rolling sausages and full carcasses of local meat hanging in the coolers waiting to be transformed into ground beef for Colgate’s local burgers. Continuously working with local suppliers and maintaining close relationships with them is something the Sodexo sustainability team believes is important as we continue to expand our local food purchasing.
Recently, the Colgate Sodexo team also signed the Taste NY Pledge which is an agreement to increase the use of New York grown and produced products in our dining locations to at least 10% of total procurement. This pledge also states an agreement to educate and maintain staff’s knowledge about the quality, importance and impact of New York’s locally grown and produced products, to highlight seasonal ingredients, and to note whenever possible, the names of the farms or local companies products are coming from. Sodexo is working to improve transparency of our local items by updating a board of local items in Frank daily, introducing item identifiers in the food lines, and having farmer profiles featured on the dining hall tablets. Frank is also planning for a Local Food Showcase “Get Local New York” where some local suppliers will feature their products and speak with students about how they produce their food. Frank is also planning a coffee sampling event in order to choose a new fair trade sustainable coffee to be implemented across dining locations. Sodexo is also preparing for Earth Day by joining Colgate’s 13 Days of Green. Frank will be preparing a special all-local meal for Earth Day, will be requesting students to make commitments to being more environmentally friendly through the “I Commit” campaign, and will be having another Weigh-the-Waste event to demonstrate the amount of food wasted daily in the dining hall