|Hold the guilt, bring on the flavour! Taste the delicious new era of campus food|
|Posted Thursday, June 7, 2012 10:55 AM|
|R.I.P, greasy, nondescript burger and mushy, flavourless peas. University food isn’t about soggy, deep-fried food or bland, reheated-frozen meals anymore.|
U of M food services has shaken up its kitchen, revamped its menu and is serving up succulent fare sourced from small, local producers.
These days, after standing in line at the local Bison Grill or Pembina Hall Residence Cafeteria, you will pick your meal from a locally sourced, freshly prepared menu designed by the university chef.
Try the savoury lasagna, made fresh on site with locally-sourced ingredients. Accompany it with a crispy garden salad boasting local produce and warm, crusty bread from Winnipeg’s City Bread. It’s comfort food at its finest.
This yummy lasagna is part of ARAMARK’s new “Building a Better Menu” program. Its pasta base comes from Nature’s Pantry, a Manitoba company based in Steinbach. The fresh ground bison inside comes from Rockwood Bison Farm in Stonewall, Manitoba, the juicy tomatoes are produced locally at Greenland Gardens in Ste. Anne, Manitoba, and Bothwell Cheese from New Bothwell, Manitoba is melted all over the top.
Lasagna is the first menu item in the larger program, which is being launched in 10 pilot locations, including the University of Manitoba. The goal of the program is to get more local healthy and sustainable food on the menu and on customers’ plates — in other words, it is both about changing the company’s practices and about building awareness and customer education about food sourcing and healthy choices.
Focusing on one menu item at a time allows for engagement and participation by food services and students at the local level in each university. The company has been partnering with student groups and sustainability units from local universities in order to best build the program.
Tina Horsley, ARAMARK’s director of sustainability and wellness, who visited the U of M earlier this spring and several Manitoba farms and producers last summer with members of U of M’s food services team, notes that ARAMARK is different on every campus.
“We don’t look the same on any campus, and don’t want to. We believe that every campus and campus community is different and try and find the right balance of local, sustainable and organic foods and concepts.”
She says that her favourite part of the job is “working with each community, student groups and leaders on campus. We are all very excited to work with the U of M community to embrace the many exciting opportunities to do things differently — to create more local, sustainable, vibrant and community-minded food systems and food cultures on campus!”
In fact, many of the ingredients that go into ARAMARK food are local, from City Bread, the Winnipeg supplier of all bread used through U of M food services, to free-range eggs and locally-grown produce, much of it organically grown.
The “I eat local” program includes initiatives such as partnering with local growers and distributors to source local produce. All dairy products are sourced from dairy farmers in Manitoba, where they are hormone and antibiotic-free. In cases where sourcing from Manitoba isn’t possible, purchasing Canadian is —such as Alberta beef and a percentage of all other beef, pork chicken, meat, fresh and frozen produce and grain products.
“I eat sustainable,” another ARAMARK initiative, ensures that its sourcing and purchasing practices become more sustainbly sound. For instance, it has partnered with SeaChoice Canada and the Marine Stewardship Council on a sustainable seafood program to provide ocean-friendly and ecologically sustainable options.
Now eating on campus is about eating healthy, sustainable and — perhaps most importantly — delicious food.
Social responsibility meets food services
There are still plenty of misconceptions about university food services, but ARAMARK is working to address those misconceptions, first of all, by changing how they do business at — and with— universities.
Food services is not only shifting to socially responsible policies and practices for its food alone; it’s also radically changed the way it manages its environmental impact.
In addition to policies on sustainably grown ingredients, local sourcing and responsible food procurement, it has also identified a number of ways to “green” its other procurement practices, with initiatives such as disposable packaging, paper products, cleaning products and source packaging on both food and non-food items.
ARAMARK’s Green Thread program is a symbol of its “commitment to protect and improve the environment; it recognizes that the decisions we make today connect us to our future.”
Green Thread is based on six key areas of impact —sustainable food; supply chain/ responsible procurement; waste management; energy & water conservation; green building operations; and transportation — under which specific initiatives have been identified and are being implemented with supporting targets and performance indicators.
A Green Thread sustainability assessment tool has also been developed, which enables all clients to perform assessments of its facilities and identify areas of opportunity to further protect and enhance our environment. The assessments also support the ARAMARK commitment to transparency.
It’s not always easy being green, as the song goes, given the size of universities and the customer base. There are a lot of meals served, and the size of the operation corresponds to the size of that consumer base. In Manitoba, the size of the U of M’s population makes it the third-largest “city” or community in the province.
But as Daryl Lucyk, the district manager for ARAMARK Higher Education Manitoba puts it, “It’s about integrity and responsibility to community.”
Top 6 fast & healthy food options
1. Shawarma: Sultan’s Middle-Eastern cuisine is a new addition to UCentre. Halal-certified chicken shawarma wraps with healthy toppings, such as red onions, pickled beets, cucumbers and Tabbouleh salad.
2. Salad bar: A great option for vegetarians and health-conscious customers.
3. Pasta station: Gourmet pastas cooked right there. Wild mushroom pasta, shitake angel hair pasta, tiger prawn linguini and more!
4. Noodles & Soup: Choose from four delicious soup varieties with fresh baked breads, or design your own noodle bowl. Noodle bowl options change daily, with choice of vegetable or meat-based broth, and tofu, for a complete vegetarian meal.
5. Express: Salads, sandwiches, and veggie cups are all made fresh daily on site and Bento sushi is available at most locations.
6. Pembina Hall: Open to the public and located in Pembina Hall, the Fresh Food Company (FFCo) feeds hundreds of residence students a day. Build your own salad or have an omelette made to order. The FFCo also provides a vegetarian and gluten free entrée.
Food services: local suppliers
-Pasta: Nature’s Pantry, Steinbach, MB
-Bread: City Bread, Winnipeg
-Pastries, desserts: Gunn’s Bakery, Winnipeg
-Free-range eggs – since 2011
-Vegetables: Peak of Market, Connery River, Mayfair Farms, Southern Manitoba Potato Company, Kroeker Farms amongst others, local producer purchasing programs still expanding
-Mushrooms: Loveday Mushrooms, Manitoba
-Potatoes: All MB, including tatertots and fries
-Cheese: Bothwell Cheese, New Bothwell, MB
-Pork: Majority from Manitoba
-Beef: Western Canada
-Chicken: Some MB
-Coffee/Tea: Fair Trade wherever possible except flavoured coffee; transitioning Expressos coffee brand to 100% Fair Trade certified coffee company for summer 2012
Waste audits; waste reduction program; kitchen waste programs; EcoTakeout program; reduced source packaging; environmentally preferable packaging and paper products; implementation of energy and water conservation programs
For more information, see the website to be launched July 12, 2012:
|For more information, contact:|
Mariianne Mays Wiebe
Editor, The Bulletin
Marketing Communications Office
Phone: (204) 474-8111
Fax: (204) 474-7631