Summer Opportunity: Food purchasing baseline project
The job: figure out your university’s current purchasing practices, with a focus on understanding where food is coming from, why it is coming from there, who is making those decisions, and where there are opportunities for improvement. You’ll get into the nitty-gritty details of changing the food on campus, and do it by working with the people running the cafeterias, buying, delivering, preparing, and serving that food. Once you finish this project, you’ll know the how the big food service companies like Aramark, Chartwells, and Sodexo work, and the same for their distributors, like Sysco and GFS.
The big question: Where is our food coming from, why, and what concrete steps can we take to improve it?
What you’ll need to find out to answer it:
- Is anyone tracking where our food is coming from? Can we label meal ingredients in our cafeterias?
- What do our distributors do for us? Can our big distributors help us get local food, or can we cut out the middle-men and get food directly from farmers? What about farmer co-ops or smaller distributors?
- Are we worried about the safety of local food? Is insurance and liability stopping us from ordering from smaller farms? What about medium sized ones? Can distributors help, or are their requirements part of the challenge?
- Do we have the kitchen space and equipment to prepare the food that we want to purchase from local farms? Do we have enough staff, and do they have the right training?
- If buying local and sustainable food costs more, can we shift food purchasing budgets and meal pricing to balance out these costs? Will students pay more?
- What role do our contracts, preferred suppliers, corporate headquarters, campus policies, and student opinions play in all of this?
Interested in leading this project on your campus? Get in touch today with Dana at firstname.lastname@example.org, Caitlin at Caitlin@mealexchange.com, or the coordinators at your campus.