UCSB dining services explores value of local food hubs

The university started small by adding five or six local and organic items to the salad bar.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—As the largest purchaser of wholesale produce in Santa Barbara County, UC Santa Barbara’s residential dining services provided the perfect avenue for a pilot project incorporating local pesticide-free or certified organic produce into an institutional setting.

The idea was conceived almost 10 years ago, when a group of students approached environmental studies professor David Cleveland about becoming a faculty adviser for student-led sustainable living classes. The group wanted to explore how to bring more local organic food in the dining halls.

In 2010, Cleveland and a group of student researchers began documenting the process, which led to the publication of a paper in the Journal of Rural Studies.