Northland College rolls out Local Foods InitiativeASHLAND, Wis. — When students grab a bite to eat in the Northland College cafeteria this fall, they’ll likely be consuming more local foods.
ASHLAND, Wis. — When students grab a bite to eat in the Northland College cafeteria this fall, they’ll likely be consuming more local foods. The increase in food that doesn’t have to travel far to get to the dinner table is part of a Local Foods Initiative the college is rolling out for the 2012-2013 term.
Northland College is working in partnership with UW-Extension, the Chequamegon Food Co-op, Bayfield Regional Food Producers Cooperative, and several area farms and businesses to supply students and campus-goers with local foods. Chartwells, Northland’s food service provider, will receive weekly deliveries of local foods from the Chequamegon Food Co-op, which is serving as a distribution hub for local farmers.
“Northland and its partners are helping to create a vibrant local food system, creating a larger market for locally-produced food products, making these products more accessible to schools and other institutions, and promoting community self-sufficiency, resiliency and prosperity,” said Nathan Engstrom, regional sustainability coordinator at Northland College.
Northland aims to increase consumption of local foods on campus to 20 percent during the 2012-2013 school year through the collaborative effort. When Northland realizes this goal, the move will represent an investment of about $100,000 to grow the presence of local foods on campus while supporting a local foods economy, farmers and their families. The initiative grew from a proposal submitted to the Chequamegon Food Co-op by the Bayfield Regional Food Producers Cooperative last year. Cooperative members requested that the co-op serve as an intermediary between farmers and area schools.
“What really resonates with me about this project is how it’s tangible and real,” said Alan Filipczak, local foods project coordinator with the Chequamegon Food Co-op. “This is exciting because this is really where the rubber meets the road. We have thousands of pounds of food and thousands of dollars going to local farmers. This initiative is really the fiscal realization of about five to 10 years of the local foods movement gaining momentum in the Chequamegon Bay region.”
Local growers have begun delivering food to the Chequamegon Food Co-op, which coordinates food storage and transportation to Northland College and Ashland High School. The collaboration benefits growers and schools by eliminating complications with billing or insurance processes and growing a network to support a local foods system. Also, participating farmers are excited to enhance the community’s connection to food grown in the Chequamegon Bay region.
“I think it’s pretty exciting that we’re able to build this relationship with Northland,” said John Adams, manager of Bayfield Apple Company. “I think it’s a great relationship to have any institution steering away from regional food providers that bring in foods from across the country. If we can replace that with locally-produced foods, then that’s going to eliminate a lot of waste, fuel costs and keep jobs in the area.”
Chequamegon Bay area producers and businesses will provide the school with apples, blueberries, broccoli, cucumbers, honey, eggs, meat, and more as part of the Local Foods Initiative. Northland College is working toward an ultimate goal of increasing local foods consumption on campus to 80 percent over time.
A listing of partners and more information about the initiative can be found online at www.northland.edu/eatlocal