The University of Rochester prides itself on providing students with healthy and nutritious local food. At the moment, 56% of food products on campus are locally sourced. This includes the vegetables and fruits we serve at salad bars and in cooked meals, some of our healthiest snacks in Hillside and the Pit, and milk served in coffee beverages.
56% might not sound like a lot, but with the amount of students and faculty we have to feed and caffeinate on campus, it’s pretty darn awesome that we can source a majority of food from small, family-owned local farms.
Why does this even matter though? Well, instead of sending our UofR big bucks to Big Agriculture for food that is often covered in pesticides and meat that is filled with antibiotics, the University is financially supporting farmers and distributors in New York State. Moreover, we try to focus on getting food from UPSTATE New York, meaning our eating needs as students directly go towards supporting a stronger local economy. These products also have lower to no pesticides and no antibiotics because local farms are also often homes. Would farmers want to live on a CAFO (disgusting animal farm often affiliated with “manure lagoons”) or on a field of toxic chemicals?
So, where do we get all of this food from? How can we organize something so intricate and complex, while dealing with the other thousand and one issues Dining constantly has to manage? Do we directly communicate with all of our local vendors? No, that would be insanely time consuming.
Instead, we use Headwater Food Hub, a company that I believe to be innovating the way local farmers work.
Headwater Food Hub is basically a consultant for local farmers. Partner farms trust Headwater with the management of their “supply chain logistics, aggregation, distribution, and sales”. In other words, Headwater acts as a middleman for these farmers, letting them focus on the task of producing high quality, nutritious and tasty food, while managing the logistics of supplying restaurants, schools, businesses, and grocery stores.
Another facet of Headwater Food to keep in mind as for those living off campus is the Good Food Collective, a subsection of Headwater that focuses on supplying local food directly to you, the individual.
How does it work? You buy a share (priced out at sometimes lower than grocery store costs) of food for the amount of people you need to feed (either yourself, or a family, or maybe just you and your roommate). Every week or two weeks (depending on the share you choose), you go to a conveniently located distribution center, where you pick up a basket of goods. If you live in certain zip codes, you can even have it delivered directly to your home. AND! if you take this info with you to your boss in the Rochester/Finger Lakes/New York City region maybe you can even set up workplace shares, and everyone could pick up their basket of goods at work. Shares are catered to season and sometimes even Holidays (Thanksgiving shares are up right now!!!).
To find out more about shares, check out this page. (P.S. You can even get shares of locally roasted coffee…)
Author: Jackie Ibragimov