Acadia University and its food service partner, Chartwells, are working together to advance sustainability performance and improve student health at the University. New initiatives outlined in a recent two-year contract extension focus on several key areas.
Chartwells is working with Acadia to earn the designation of Fair Trade Campus. Just Us! Coffee Roasters Fair Trade coffee, tea, and chocolate will be offered in all Chartwells operations on campus. The Acadia Students’ Union worked with Just Us! and Chartwells to develop an Acadia signature blend. A student competition will be held to choose a name and logo.
Recognizing the importance of supporting local food producers, Chartwells will increase purchasing from local vendors by two per cent in each of the 2017 and 2018 academic years. “We already buy many local products, but because of the volume of purchases for Acadia, this increase amounts to a significant additional investment in the local economy,” noted Jodie Noiles, Acadia’s Sustainability Coordinator.
Chartwells will also continue to support the Acadia Community Farm by purchasing food grown at the campus garden by students and community volunteers. The garden also supports student and life-long learning at Acadia in the areas of food systems and food security, organic agriculture and community development.
Finally, to help students learn more about health and nutrition a new kiosk in the dining hall will detail nutritional information about food and beverages as well as offering students a convenient way to provide feedback and ask questions. A new outreach position will also focus on increasing engagement with students.
The current focus on healthy and sustainable food came about as a result of several initiatives at the institution. A committee of staff, faculty, students and public health professionals formed in 2012 to consult with the Acadia community and investigate trends in post-secondary food services. This work focused attention on several areas including local food procurement and nutrition education and engagement.
More recently, a student-organized food forum held in November identified priorities among students. Acadia Student Union Sustainability Officer, Grace Hamilton-Burge, who held the conference was pleased with the turnout and feedback from students. “Students showed significant interest and engagement in their food services. Priorities focused on the importance of local, fair trade food and beverage as well transparency about what local food is offered.”
Work already completed includes a reorganization of food stations in the dining hall to promote healthy food options. With the relocation of the salad bar consumption increased by about 25 per cent.
These and other initiatives are part of Acadia’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and better health outcomes for its students.