The University of Winnipeg’s Diversity Food Services’ efforts at serving up sustainable meals have earned the school top honours from an association that focuses on innovation in post-secondary education.
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) scored the U of W as North America’s number one school in the food and dining category, as part of its Sustainable Campus Index.
Diversity Food Services’ executive chef, Kelly Andreas, told 680 CJOB that the university, which scored an 89 per cent on this year’s sustainability index – up from 2018’s score of 65.7 per cent – is due in large part to its strong relationships with local producers.
“It’s a lot of time, patience, research, diligence … and a lot of relationship-building, especially with the local farmers,” said Andreas.
“It’s field-to-plate as much as we possibly can. Local procurement is one of our key mandates. We look at things such as organic, such as carbon footprints, in regard to who we hire in a social mandate.
“We’re trying to keep everything as tight as possible, as close to our plates as possible.”
Andreas said reducing the environmental impact of the food Winnipeggers are eating has involved years of research, and that making sure food is locally sourced is a bit of a challenge, especially in a climate as variable as Manitoba’s.
“Vegetables are the easier ones. Proteins… Manitoba is very well-known for its proteins now – beef, pork, chicken, as well as bison, which is one we use very often.”
Fruits and vegetables with short growing seasons are trickier, he said, but they get around that by pickling them, freezing them, making jams, sauces and preserves – so it’s still locally sourced food, even if it’s not in season.
The university said Diversity Food Services works with almost 100 suppliers, including Ile-des-Chenes bison/ham/beef farm Simcock Farms and Winnipeg staple Gunn’s Bakery.
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