Crossroads Sustainable Sampling Event

This past Wednesday, Dining hosted a sustainable foods tasting event in front of Crossroads, as a way of publicizing the sustainable food items we stock on a daily basis in our retail locations (Crossroads in particular). Throughout the three hour sampling session several hundred students dropped by and tasted some of the goodies, and also learned about what makes those products sustainable, as well as Dining's continued efforts to expand its sustainable purchasing. The highlighted items include:

  • 18 Rabbits granola bars (Haute Diggety Date [with dates, almonds and coconut], Cheeky Cherry Chocolate [with organic chocolate and cranberries], Nibble A Sultana [with apricots and hazelnuts], and Funky Figs & Cherries [with organic mission figs and honey] -- not only are the bars made with organic ingredients, but the company also gives more than 1% of the granola bars they produce to kids in urban schools. They really are meeting the triple bottom line!

  • Green & Blacks chocolate (we featured their Maya Gold and Milk Chocolate with Almonds flavors) -- they're made with organically grown cocoa beans and both bars we sampled are Fair Trade certified.

  • Fair Trade and Organically Certified Java City Coffee

NBC29 even caught wind of the event and came by to capture some footage of the sampling fun!

I hope that students will show their support for Dining's retail sustainability initiative by purchasing some of the recently highlighted items, as well as other organic and fair trade products on our shelves. The Farm at Red Hill, located just down the road in North Garden, VA, also provides Dining with delicious locally grown and processed salsa and hummus that we stock in retail locations like Crossroads. Come see for yourself!


Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Kellogg Delivery

Yesterday I left the office and took a sunny drive up to Verona, VA where the headquarters for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank are located. As detailed in a previous blog post, between January 26 and February 25, Kellogg and UVa Dining partnered on a food donation program called "Share Your Bowl" in which Kellogg donated an equivalent match to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank for every bowl of cereal eaten at UVa's three residential dining locations. Kellogg predicted at the start of the partnership that it would donate about 6,400 servings of cereal to the food bank; the program exceeded expectations and resulted in an impressive 10,944 servings ultimately being donated!

The cases of cereal were donated to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank headquarters yesterday, and I documented the delivery. It's pretty amazing to see all those boxes together and to be able to visualize the impact that this cereal is going to have on many deserving children in central Virginia. The cereal donation came in individual serving packs, which, as Food Sourcing Manager Greg Knight explained to me yesterday, will be utilized in the food bank's BackPack Program.

From a food bank brochure: "The BackPack Program ensures that children at risk of hunger have food to eat when school-based resources are not available, such as weekends and school vacations. Each Friday, or the day before a school vacation, children receive backpacks full of nutritious foods to take home." The program applies to elementary schools in which more than 50% of its students receive free and reduced-price school lunches through the National School Lunch Program. This donated cereal will go directly into backpacks for those underserved schoolkids.

UVa Dining is proud to have been a part of enabling the continued success of something as worthwhile as the BackPack Program, and looks forward to continuing its partnership with both Kellogg and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.


Upcoming Events: Lunch Line and Crop Mob

Spring has officially arrived, and what better way to celebrate than to be a part of the conversation and action surrounding sustainable agriculture? There are two events coming up in the next week and a half that give you the chance to do just that:
1. Free screening of Lunch Line. Friday, March 25, 7-9pm at the Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center at Charlottesville High School.
This event is free and open to the public. Please join us for the Charlottesville premiere of Lunch Line, a documentary film that chronicles the history of school lunch in America. Find out how school lunch became what it is today — and stay for a panel discussion about what we can do to fix it.

Participants include:
Ed Bruske, DC-based chef, journalist, blogger
Alicia Cost, Charlottesville City Schools Nutrition Services Dept. Registered Dietician
Andrea Early, Director of School Nutrition Harrisonburg City Schools
Charles Green, Dir. Marketing & Development, VA Dept of Agriculture & Consumer Services (oversees VA's Farm to School program)
Matt Trowbridge, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine UVA School of Medicine
Tanya Denckla-Cobb (moderator), UVA Prof. Urban & Environmental Planning, author of "The Gardener's A-to-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food"

Special thanks to the event partners and sponsors:
A Pimento Catering
Blue Ridge Backyard Harvest
City Schoolyard Garden Project
Cville School Food Initiative
Local Food Hub
Slow Food Albemarle-Piedmont
Univ. of Virginia Food Collaborative
VMDO Architects
Whole Foods Market Charlottesville

For more info check out the Facebook event page and the Local Food Hub's recent blog post.

2. Charlottesville Crop Mob. Saturday, April 2 (rescheduled from March 26), 10am - 1pm at the Local Food Hub's Educational Farm at Maple Hill (Scottsville, VA).
You might have heard about these modern barn-raising groups popping up around the country; Charlottesville is finally getting in on the fun with its first crop mob event on April 2nd. Get your hands dirty planting 600 lbs of organic potatoes and constructing high tunnels for early pepper plants. Finish the day with a tour and picnic on the farm.

RSVP on the Crop Mob's Facebook event page.


Celebrate National Nutrition Month with UVa Dining

March is National Nutrition Month, and Dining is celebrating with a few theme meals that recognize the important role that fresh, local vegetables play in personal nutrition. As the season truly gets underway, we will be getting an increasing amount of produce from the Local Food Hub, but this month provides an opportunity to highlight such items (pending weather and other variables!) at specific meal events.

Last night Runk hosted the first such theme meal at dinner, serving whole wheat pasta with house made spinach pesto over mixed greens, and whole grain couscous with roasted vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, onion and eggplant). Pita bread and hummus was served on the side. The station proved to be a popular one, as did the Dining Nutrition table that was set up nearby, featuring a healthy food sudoku puzzle that students were prompted to complete in a certain time frame in order to win t-shirts and other prizes.

The nutrition table and healthy station are coming to OHill tomorrow, Thursday the 17th at lunch (11am - 2pm), and to Newcomb on Monday, March 21st, also at lunch.

Check out the dishes (and remember that produce items will be local as they become available via the Local Food Hub):

Butternut squash and tofu curry (tofu from Twin Oaks in Louisa, VA)
Polenta cakes and roasted vegetables featuring mixed squash and Twin Oaks feta cheese

Sweet potato cake with spinach salad
Vegetable pot pie with polenta crust (featuring sweet potato, turnip, various winter squashes, and oyster and shitake mushrooms)
Baked apples (with local apples and honey)


Morven Summer Institute

Now that everyone's back from spring break, it's naturally time to start thinking ahead to summer vacation and how those class-free months will be filled. The beautiful Morven Farm, a 3,000 acre gift from John Kluge to UVa in 2000, is a mere 14 miles away from Grounds, but inhabits a completely different environment from the University. It is this juxtaposition of separation and unity, along with an interest in utilizing the landscape for educational purposes - particularly as a basis for sustainability-related explorations - that provided the basis for the new Morven Summer Institute that will take place at Morven from May 16 through June 9.

From the Institute's website: The Morven Summer Institute is an intensive and unique four-week (May 16 - June 9, 2011) experience held on the grounds of UVa's historic Morven Farm. Designed for undergraduates with interests in sustainability, design, food systems, and ecology, this interdisciplinary program features courses in Architecture, Interdisciplinary Food Studies, and a one-credit seminar co-taught by a multidisciplinary team of faculty from across the University. Students will arrive at Morven in the morning (transportation is provided) and return to Grounds in the early afternoon. Like Study Abroad, but in Charlottesville, students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a distinctive learning environment for a novel environmental education. Alongside coursework, the Morven Kitchen Garden will be both a highlight and focus of the student experience at the Morven Summer Institute."

The Morven Kitchen Garden is a project underway to re-cultivate the one-acre plot that was used as a kitchen garden while John Kluge still lived on the property. The growing experience will serve as an educational tool for faculty and students, and the food itself will be provided to participants in the Summer Institute. The plot has been cleared and tilled, and Panorama Pay-Dirt has just come in and dumped 30 cubic yards of their 'black gold' onto the space (courtesy of a donation from UVa Dining), so the planting and growing will begin soon!

Along with the educational components of the kitchen garden, three courses will be taught over the four-week Institute period:

The deadline to apply for the Morven Summer Institute is April 1st. The application can be found here.


Gary Nabhan Speaking at UVa This Evening, 5pm

Thanks to all that came out last night for the Logistics of Local panel at the lovely Jefferson Scholars Foundation space -- we had a great conversation with our panelists, as well as the students and community members that participated in the discussion. For more details, see today's Cavalier Daily article about the event.

If you're ready for another study break in between all those midterm papers and exams, head on over to the A-school (Campbell Hall room 160, to be exact) today at 5pm for a presentation by Gary Nabhan, acclaimed author and speaker on community food heritage, who will give a talk on "Climate Change and Place-Based Food". Stick around after his presentation for Dining-sponsored reception and book-signing in celebration of the release of his latest volume, Chasing Chiles. This is what publisher Chelsea Green has to say about Nabhan's new book: "Chasing Chiles looks at both the future of place-based foods and the effects of climate change on agriculture through the lens of the chile pepper—from the farmers who cultivate this iconic crop to the cuisines and cultural traditions in which peppers play a huge role. ... Chasing Chiles is not your archetypal book about climate change, with facts and computer models delivered by a distant narrator. On the contrary, these three dedicated chileheads look and listen, sit down to eat, and get stories and recipes from on the ground—in farmers' fields, local cafes, and the desert-scrub hillsides across North America. From the Sonoran Desert to Santa Fe and St. Augustine (the two oldest cities in the US), from the marshes of Avery Island in Cajun Louisiana to the thin limestone soils of the Yucatan, this book looks at how and why climate change will continue to affect our palates and our producers, and how it already has."