U of G Showcases Initiatives for Local Food Week

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Food grown at U of G as part of local food initiatives

To mark Local Food Week, the University of Guelph is highlighting the award-winning local food initiatives of campus Hospitality Services.

Local Food Week aims to encourage consumers to support local agriculture and food processing.

Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ernie Hardeman, kicked off the event Monday.

“Local Food Week is a great way to celebrate all the good things grown, produced and processed in Ontario,” said Hardeman. “I want to encourage everyone to support our agriculture and food processing sector by choosing local and to enjoy all the amazing food grown and made right here in Ontario.”

U of G is a recognized leader in serving locally grown food. In 2017, the Meal Exchange Canada Food Report Card, supported by the Government of Ontario and the Greenbelt Fund, placed U of G first among 10 Ontario universities for making locally grown food available on campus menus.

U of G has also received an Ontario’s Local Foods Champions award for its commitment to local food.

The University has made a concerted effort to buy local since 2008, said Ed Townsley, executive director of Hospitality Services.

“We’ve invested in local food because we think it tastes better and it’s more efficient from a sustainability perspective and cost perspective,” said Townsley.

“It saves money for us because we don’t have to bring in higher-cost produce in the winter from the U.S. It also helps the local farmers who can increase their sales to the University.”

About 45 per cent of food served on campus is local when in season. The University buys products from about 75 area farmers through the Elmira Produce Auction Co-operative, as well as 120 local businesses and University farms and research stations.

Unlike at some universities, which contract out their cafeteria services to catering companies, Hospitality Services uses its own recipes. This means more opportunities to incorporate local foods and a greater variety of menu items.

This spring, Maclean’s magazine declared U of G as the best in Canada for campus food. The magazine found that nearly 94 per cent of Guelph students are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the food on campus.