UMass food services sets "Real Food" goal for 2020

The University of Massachusetts is focusing on locally produced food with the Real Food Challenge.

Jan. 16—The University of Massachusetts is amping up efforts to rely on locally produced food with the Real Food Challenge, a national movement pushing colleges to adopt more sustainable food practices, and a two-year grant from a Boston-based foundation.

The Real Food Challenge at UMass has set a goal of ensuring 20 percent of all food served at UMass is “real food” by 2020. “Real food” is defined as food that is grown locally and regionally, is organic, and is sustainably grown, humanely raised and produced with fair trade principles.

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Ideas and Innovation
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We use our Menu Forward idea to empower staff to develop menu items and keep leftovers in check. Product left at the end of service may be claimed by any station to become part of a new item within six weeks. I’m happy to see my star team fighting for their ideas and products; the benefit to food cost is spot-on, and my freezer has no mystery items lurking in the corner.

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Kayla Webb, executive chef at Muse School, has transitioned the private K-12 day school in Calabasas, Calif., to an entirely vegan menu over a three-year period. Webb talks about her menuing, and how the school’s kitchen earned the title of “greenest restaurant in the world” from the Green Restaurant Association.

Q: How did you help parents get used to the idea of an all plant-based diet?

A: The first year, we didn’t announce it. We were just serving one plant-based meal a week, so it wasn’t that drastic. We do monthly Muse Talks where we invite different speakers to our school to...

Ideas and Innovation
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When potential students come to campus, we match them with a student from our allergy support group for a tour of our dining facilities. The ambassador helps the potential student to understand how they navigated campus with their food allergy. This showcases what we do for allergies on campus, and is a highly successful way to make the students feel good about dining.

Ideas and Innovation
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Savor at McCormick Place developed the Green Thumb brand for menu items and products featuring its rooftop bounty; the latest is a pale ale made with the first crop of hops grown on the roof. Promoting that branding and the convention center’s green certification has brought in business from groups with a sustainability focus.

FSD Resources