As students continue to push for sustainability on campus, Dining Services have also jumped on the bandwagon through the use of local foods.
In 2009, Dining Services partnered with the department of horticulture, and were later provided with facilities out of Kentland Farms. With this, they have contributed to a more sustainable lifestyle by growing much of their own produce.
"Using local foods plays a significant role in the progress toward a more sustainable future," said Carolyn Bess, assistant director of Owen's Food Court.
“(It) has a smaller footprint. We’re not shipping products all over the place, we’re utilizing local suppliers and we are supporting local farmers,” Bess said. “We’re supporting the effort of maintaining and knowing something about the products we’re serving. We know where our products came from and how they were raised.”
Last year, Owen’s hosted a themed dinner with a focus on local foods, which according to Bess, was a major success among the students. This year, the dining hall is bringing back “Tribute to Local Ingredients” on Tuesday, Sept. 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. Although this date runs beyond Sustainability Week, the event promotes the theme all the same.
The meals will showcase the fruits and vegetables from Kentland Farms, as well as meat dishes from Tech's Meat Science Center. The dining hall’s dinner will include a large variety of tapas, a new feature this year.
A concept originating in Spain, tapas dishes are typically known as small snacks and appetizers, which can be shared between several people at a time. Bess said the event would consist of small plates of food where students can go about making as many or as few choices as they wish, as opposed to the seated and more structured multi-course meal in the past.
Numerous stations will be present, and savory dishes will include menu items like thinly sliced potatoes with a layer of egg poured over top, beef tenderloin, Moroccan style lamb meatballs, smoked trout mousse, a goat cheese crouton salad and a bruschetta bar. Dessert will consist of peach sorbet, raspberry coulis and apple empanadas with crème anglaise.
Bess expects 80 to 100 people to go this year, and therefore recommends that students buy a seat in advance to ensure they will be able to receive food.
Accompanying this dinner, Dining Services is also welcoming a new sustainability coordinator and Tech alumna, Rial Tombes. Bess said the ability to use ingredients from the area has been a great opportunity, and with Tombes, Tech's dining services will continue to do so in the future.
“(Our growth with farming) was a gleam in somebody’s eye in ’08, and by ’09 it was an herb garden with flowers,” Bess said. “In 2010 we harvested 18,000 pounds of product for our first full year of service. We grew to 30,000 last year, and we aren’t even finished harvesting this year.”