UDS something to be proud of

University Dining Services has made clear progress in the past two years.

Many students, staff members and faculty members are returning to campus with a resolution to eat healthful foods and to make smarter food choices in the new year. The following information may be helpful in keeping those resolutions.

University Dining Services strives to increase campus offerings to include more environmentally friendly foods. UDS’ goals are to utilize fair-trade coffee and locally and regionally produced products wherever possible. We have made good progress in this area in the past two years.

UDS has collaborated with its primary distributor to purchase local and regional products. For the University, this translates into dining services ordering and serving locally grown products. Some of these local products include beans and other vegetables from Pahl Farms in Apple Valley; cucumbers, radishes and squash from Vine Valley Farms in Stewart; peppers and eggplant from Svihel Farms in Becker and Big Lake; and baking potatoes from Nuto Farms in Rice Lake, Wis. One of our best examples is Pepin Heights Farms in Lake City, which has provided 4,240 pounds of University-developed Honeycrisp apples and 516 gallons of apple cider in the past year.

UDS purchased and served more than 2 tons of local produce during the summer 2005. Sustainable agriculture items are used in recipes at all UDS residential and retail locations as well as in catering operations. At the University’s Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, UDS utilizes products grown on-site in many of the soups, muffins and daily offerings in the Oswald Visitor Center restaurant.

UDS has also partnered with the nonprofit Food Alliance Midwest to support local sustainable agriculture. Food Alliance partners purchase foods from suppliers who voluntarily meet a set of standards developed to define socially and environmentally responsible agricultural practices. Earlier this year, UDS introduced Eco-Grounds coffee at the Left Bank Cafe in the Regis Center for Art and at the Arboretum. This coffee includes 100 percent organic, fair-trade, bird-friendly, shade-grown and rainforest alliance varieties. UDS offers fair-trade coffee at all retail venues on campus and it is served exclusively at all of the residential dining halls. Peace Coffee (delivered to UDS on bicycle) is offered at the M Deli in Coffman Union.

UDS offers organic food items at the Residential C3 Markets in Sanford, Middlebrook and Centennial halls. Products are also available at Essentials Market in Blegen Hall and the M Deli.UDS administrative staff is involved in many grassroots organizations that support local foods initiatives. This involvement keeps UDS up to date on what is available and what other businesses are doing in regard to sustainability. The University, with its food service contractor, Aramark, and its distributor Sysco is working on its commitment.

Ideas and suggestions about UDS offerings and services are welcome at [email protected]

Leslie Bowman is director of contract administration at University Dining Services. Please send comments to [email protected]