Beginning this year, Bon Appétit, Wesleyan’s dining service, has committed to ensuring that at least 20 percent of the food they serve at the University will come from local sources within a 150-mile radius of campus. The pledge is part of Bon Appétit’s national company-wide goal to become environmentally friendly and socially responsible.
“[The program] is now a company-wide initiative to buy local from small owner-operated farms or artisan businesses,” wrote Resident District Manager of Bon Appétit Michael Strumpf in an e-mail to The Argus. “The twenty percent guideline was set by the support staff at corporate office. It is based on what we think is reasonable for all accounts across the country, regardless of climate.”
Although Bon Appétit has always bought some food locally, including produce and baked goods, these purchases were primarily based on the quality of the products. The new program, dubbed Farm to Fork, marks a shift toward environmental consciousness.
Student group WesFresh (Wesleyan Students For Real, Ethical, Sustainable Habits) hopes to work closely with Bon Appétit to implement the program. Although they have not yet established a formal working relationship, both groups expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration.
“WesFresh approached us last year and asked if they could get involved with helping source local farmers and artisan businesses,” Strumpf said. “WesFresh and Bon Appétit are a great match because their initiatives stand for the same goals as our Farm to Fork program.”
“Because groups like WesFresh and others are pushing for more sustainable practices, [Bon Appétit is] responding,” said WesFresh member Sophie Ackoff ’11. “Bon Appétit is really supportive and is listening to what students want to see in their dining halls.”
According to Ackoff, WesFresh is hoping to build ties between twenty local farmers and Bon Appétit by the end of the year. They also plan to promote awareness on campus about the positive health, environmental, and labor implications of consuming locally-produced food.
“Serving more local food in the dining hall may result in fewer options at any given meal,” Ackoff said. “But we should all realize that eating foods in season that are locally produced support our community and taste fresher. I would much rather focus on a couple dishes that taste better than have the option of many that have been shipped across the world.”