Isn’t it interesting that we take food for granted? All around us, on campus, are endless temptations. Slow food, fast food, organic food, healthy food, comfort food, vegetarian, vegan, Kosher, Halal…a true cornucopia of culinary options. As a child, our parents provided endless meals and snacks catering to our likes and dislikes. Some recipes might have been handed down from generation to generation, others gleaned from the internet or a new cook book. It seems that there was an endless supply of food options. But sometimes we take food for granted. Do we care where it was produced? Grown? Was it local or regionally sourced? Did the purchase of the ingredient have a positive impact on the community possibly providing income to a local farmer? These are all of the questions that UConn Dining has to consider as we operate Dining Services. Currently 34% of our commodities purchased are either local or regional. We are currently striving to make a difference. As an organization Dining Services does not see ourselves as just a food service provider. We create an atmosphere for dialogue, a respite from the trials and tribulations of the academic pursuit and a friendly face at each meal. We are the culinary educators offering new tastes, we make sure that there is always healthy and wholesome food available and lastly… we listen.
Weather conditions, high cost of fuel and other factors have driven the price of food significantly in the past few years and futurists are predicting that brighter times are not on the horizon. So if we realize that resources are limited, Dining Services shares in this concern and is actively pursuing new measures to address food waste. This semester we have several projects that will assist us in meeting the charge given to us by the University, where Dining is working to channel all of our food waste by the year 2020. Environmental stewardship is the responsibility for those whose actions affect the environment. Every day, more than three hundred million Americans make countless choices that can impact our environment. By being an active environmental steward, Dining reduces those impacts and make a difference in the kind of world we live in today to pass on to future generations.
This spring Dining Services is taking an active role in our own stewardship program. We are moving away from the use of plastic bags, have switched our straws from plastic to paper and have expanded our local purchases with a local dairy. These initiatives are part of Dining Service’s master plan to support the Division of Student Affairs’ and the University’s challenge to become better environmental stewards. In addition we are continuing to align our menus offerings with the principles of the Menus of Change, an initiative to create healthier menu options. Since the mid 1960s, the United States’ obsessions with processed foods has increased from a special occasion treat to a daily first choice for many consumer meals which in itself can explain a lot about our decline in national health. Type 2 diabetes diagnoses have quickly ascended to alarming and potentially catastrophic numbers, putting an even higher priority on the dietary habits and health of children. The reduction of actual dietary fiber in processing leaves all of us capable of consuming much more food then we need, and the lack of plant based fiber is certainly a major culprit in many of the disease that impact out health. The Menus of Change initiative has provided us with a direction, a strategy that will guide us in creating healthier menus to create a healthier environment.
Lastly, to keep in touch with Dining and the services we offer, please utilize this guidebook, our UCuisine. If one is not available, because we will be printing less copies as usual, you can find all of our information on our website: www.dining.uconn.edu
Please let us know how we can meet your needs. Your dining experience has to be a memorable one or we have failed to meet your expectations. Enjoy the semester, practice sustainability and make a conscious effort to make the most out of life.
Eat well, enjoy life and pursue your dreams,
Executive Director of Dining Services