When you think of college students’ eating habits, what comes to mind? Like most people you probably think of grease-filled fast foods, like MacDonalds, and junk food generally — anything that adds to the so-called dreaded “freshman 15,” the number of pounds students are thought to gain in their first year at school.
What would you say if we told you that this is not the case at Pace University?
Thanks to the generous assistance of Ms. Mary Lieto, the director of Auxiliary Services, The Food Justice Team was able to review all the food items purchased by Pace students in the past year. To our surprise, one of the most popular was not the “unhealthy” choice you might expect. In fact, the data show that salad is one of three foods most often chosen by students.
From the day the project began, we had one chief goal — to achieve more sustainable food here on campus. Before even receiving the data, one of our objectives was for Chartwells to buy the products from truly local suppliers. Our research shows that is possible, at least in part. There are sustainable suppliers in our region we would like to explore.
Continental Organics in New Windsor, NY was founded by Pace alum Michael Finnegan, Law ’87, and is a “’Zero Waste’ agriculture company that has pioneered new, sustainable ways of growing fish and produce in a closed-loop facility that includes recirculating aquaponics systems, indoor and outdoor vegetable cultivation and compost manufacture.”
The Stone Barns Center at 630 Bedford Road (the Pace Pleasantville campus is located at 861 Bedford Road) raises a variety of foods using sustainable methods, and trains farmers “in resilient, restorative farming techniques” as part of its mission “to create a healthy and sustainable food system.”
When we say local, we mean local!
The Food Justice Team is planning to meet with representatives of both organizations to discuss possibilities, such as a “Pace Virtual Farm” — a collective of local, sustainable food sources to help supply our dining halls — and any other ideas that will enable us to join our missions together. This is an objective the three of us on the team, and many other Pace students, are all crossing our fingers for.
We know that a new system of suppliers for Chartwells is not an overnight job, but rather one that is going to take cooperation from all sides. The goal for the Food Justice Team is to pursue aggressively more opportunities for real, sustainable food for our campuses. We realize, however, it means taking things one step at a time. This is our first small step toward our huge goal.