The secret is in the sauce at SUNY Cortland

The New York campus will create its own sauce from locally grown tomatoes and ingredients.

Published in FSD C&U Spotlight

This fall, the pizza and marinara sauce at the Cortland campus of The State University of New York (SUNY) may taste a bit more like home than usual. A new agreement with local organic grower, Main Street Farms, has allowed the campus’s foodservice team to organize an ambitious endeavor for upstate central New York: the creation of its own tomato sauce made from locally sourced ingredients.

“We do a lot of local sourcing on campus, but this was our first stint in going directly to the farm on this large of a scale,” says Bill McNamara, director of dining services. “We’re going to make a base sauce and we’ll use [it] for tomato sauce and pizza sauce and various other recipe ingredients.”

Per the agreement, SUNY Cortland purchased all of the Roma tomato plants that will be grown on one acre of Main Street Farms land as a nonrefundable deposit. When the tomatoes are ripe for picking, the university will purchase every tomato that comes off of the acre for use in the tomato sauce. “[Main Street Farms is] helping us out and they’re making a little bit of money, and we’re going to have a much better product, more local, much healthier, better-tasting sauce,” McNamara says.

McNamara and his team have been evaluating the endeavor for some time and have already developed the base recipe. “We initially had the idea last year, so we needed to put a little bit of information together and see how it would work,” he explains. “We needed to know how much sauce comes out of a bushel of tomatoes once you do all the work. So toward the end of last year, we ordered in maybe 20 bushels of tomatoes and cored them and cooked them so we could develop a recipe and that’s what we plan to go with this year.”

For this first test, McNamara doesn’t expect the initial supply to last very long. “From the acre, we anticipate [growth of] about 5,000 pounds of tomatoes, which will turn into about 500 gallons of sauce and we’re going to use that in our residential dining hall,” he says. “This is 5% of dining services’ annual supply of tomato sauces and pizza sauces … but we anticipate it will last about a month and then we’ll have to revert back to our traditional canned California sauces.” After evaluating the success of the program and working out any kinks, McNamara hopes to increase tomato production after this year, as well as production of other vegetables.

The benefits to the community and the environment outweigh the benefits to dining services’ bottom line, however. “It’s a more expensive process, there’s no doubt about that,” McNamara shares. “We are investing directly right here into the Cortland community. What we are going to get is a much fresher sauce, and not only are the tomatoes local, but all of the herbs and inputs are going to be local as well. Everything is right here from Cortland, with the exception of oil, but that will be a New York state product.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Just over 100 foodservice workers at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., have voted to join a branch of the Service Employees International Union, KIMT reports.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota said that 89% of the ballots cast during last week’s election were in favor of unionizing.

The workers are employed by Sodexo, Mayo Clinic’s current foodservice vendor. The clinic recently announced plans to switch vendors to Morrison Healthcare Food Services, a move that has sparked backlash from workers and led to a lawsuit from the SEIU .

Read the full story via .

Sponsored Content
pasta dish from NC State

From Barilla.

Good-for-you food doesn’t do much good if it’s a hard sell to get diners to eat it. Luckily, pasta is nearly always a crowd-pleaser, especially with student athletes who benefit from its nutritional boost.

“One thing about pasta is that students like it,” says Lisa Eberhart, a registered dietician and director of nutrition and wellness for North Carolina State University, where they serve Barilla pasta. “It’s also a great source of slow-burning carbohydrates.”

In fact, 57% of Gen Z consumers and 58% of millennials call pasta a “preferred food,”...

Industry News & Opinion

The Los Angeles Unified School District has lifted its ban on flavored milk in an effort to reduce food waste, the Los Angeles Times reports.

After implementing the ban in 2011, the district noticed that many students would simply throw away their unused milk containers, causing them to end up in landfills. In order to combat the problem, the district’s board is launching a four-part study in 21 schools that will examine different ways to encourage kids to drink more plain milk.

One of the theories proposed is that students will be more likely to drink plain milk if they...

Industry News & Opinion

As Harvard University’s dining staff strike continues , the school has added an extra $25 to student accounts, providing more flexibility for students to eat outside of the dining halls, The Harvard Crimson reports.

The extra funds were added to Crimson Cash and BoardPlus accounts, which students can use to pay for food both on and off campus.

Aside from some technical issues with payment processing, students are grateful for the extra money, according to The Harvard Crimson.

Since the strike began two weeks ago, students have complained about food quality in the...

FSD Resources