By Sarah Wallace
Michigan turkey, green beans, and apples were served last Thursday, April 10, as part of Kalamazoo College Dining Services’ first local meal of the quarter. These foods were on exhibition that day, but the cafeteria has 15 local products at any given time, and the number will be going up with the season’s turn.
Kalamazoo College Dining Service’s definition of local is food purchased from companies that are within a 150-mile radius of Kalamazoo. This does not necessarily mean that all the food brought in is produced in Michigan, although the majority is.
The Dining Service’s staff is actively working to increase the amount of local food that is available to the College. One recent addition is sushi in the Richardson Room, which is purchased from local Hunan Gardens, located on West Main Street in Kalamazoo.
The idea of serving sushi came from a tour of Western Michigan University’s campus that a few of the Dining Service employees took, including Emily Pyne, James Chatanasombut, and Estelle Bean. Jill Nance, the new Dining Supervisor Lead, is pleased with the quality and the response from students.
“Hunans makes the sushi fresh every day. It gets delivered here every morning and it’s very well-handled and very well-done,” Nance said. “We’re selling out of it daily. I’m surprised at how fast it caught on.”
This is just one way students can see that the Dining Service is looking to fulfill campus needs. Farms to K is working to increase the amount of local food in the cafeteria. Emily Pyne, the former Supervisor Dining Lead, commented on this:
“Farms to K and the food committee – Kalamazoo students – define local and what percentage of these local foods they want to see available,” Pyne said. “Our goal is to reach whatever they are asking for.”
Farms to K is supportive of the Real Food Challenge, a nonprofit organization that has a nationwide goal to get 20 percent of the cafeteria’s food to be “local” by the year 2020. Maddie MacWilliams, one of the Civic Engagement Scholars and Co-Leaders of Farms to K along with Nadia Torres, recognizes that this is difficult to accomplish.
MacWilliams brings up that Farms to K’s definition of “local” means that the product does not only come from within a 150-mile radius and from the state of Michigan, but that it is grown and produced there, as well.
“We would be thrilled if we could reach the goal of 20 percent local and sustainable food in the cafeteria in the near future, but we understand that, based on our definition of local, this is an ambitious goal,” said MacWilliams.
Emily Pyne has recently left the Dining Service’s staff after working at K for 12 years. She was happy to reflect on the company’s growing relationship with the school.
“Creative Dining’s learning the demands of the students, the students are learning how the company is going to function,” Pyne said. “The Kalamazoo College campus is lucky to have Creative Dining and as far as the options and the quality of the food, it supersedes by far…any university around here.”