Sodexo strives to add more farm fresh foods

Norwich University has partnered with Sodexo food service’s local farm fresh food campaign for two years now and is continuing to try and expand offerings to students at the school.

“Sodexo contracts local farms to grow fresh foods, so they can serve fresh foods such as vegetables to students,” said Rob Garcelon, executive chef of Sodexo food service for Norwich University. The biggest local supplier is the farm at Vermont Technical College in Randolph, which the school uses for its fresh produce products.

Sodexo tells the farms what they will need for next year’s harvest and what amounts for each product. Sodexo not only is using these farms for Norwich but also for other local colleges as well, according to Garcelon.

Sodexo is improving every year on the campaign and plans to keep moving forward to help the local farms in the area. “Whatever we can buy for food, we try to buy local,” Garcelon said.

Besides using local produce, Sodexo’s efforts to help the local farmers includes buying eggs and meats from local farms. They believe that if they support local farms and vendors, that supports the industry in Vermont, according to Garcelon.

Each year Sodexo gains more and more fresh products to serve their students during meals and other functions. To bring attention to the use of fresh foods, there is a tag near the product being served that says it is locally grown, said Garcelon.

Sodexo is using 12 different farms to provide products and these farms are all over the state. However, VTC is their main provider due to their size, Garcelon said.

At the start of the fall harvest season, at least 40 to 50 percent of the produce comes fresh locally from contracted farms. When farms are in transition from fall growing items to the winter season, Sodexo will ask farms for produce that is fresh but has a longer shelf life, such as potatoes, Garcelon explained.

Sodexo treats the local farms like any other vendor, which means that if the farmer says, “Oh, I can give you this much,” then the farmer needs to hold to that or Sodexo goes to another farm for its produce, said Garcelon.

“This campaign is a work in progress,” Garcelon added. “We have had a great harvest this season and the produce has been out of this world. I was very pleased with the products we received.”

Sodexo is also doing a compost project which means that any foods that can be composted, Sodexo will send the food waste back to the farms so they can use it to fertilize the soil to grow new crops, he said.

Sodexo holds a once-a-month forum with the food committee and all students are welcome to participate. “We would love to have students to come ask questions and offer ideas to the committee on how to help out the Vermont community even more,” Garcelon said.

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