Every Wednesday in Upper Class Dining, a new station will play host to local farmers and the food they have produced.
This past Wednesday during the Oktoberfest celebration, Yonder Farms, based in Hudson, N.Y., supplied apple cider, cider donuts, kielbasa, homemade applesauce, German chocolate cake and apple strudel.
The treats were well received by students. Many went back for second and third helpings, yet the benefits of this local initiate go well beyond taste.
Students may already have noticed some daily local staples in the dining halls and retail stations around campus, including locally produced feta cheese, hummus, yogurt, pork products and in season vegetables.
Union Dining is currently working with over 50 different farms located around the region that are all less than 250 miles from Union’s campus.
Each week, a different farm will be featured at the station in Upper Class Dining with a number of their products to taste.
Manager of Food Services for Union Dining Jill Frascatore explained that, “Union is striving to increase awareness and provide communication to our customers about where our food is coming from as well as highlighting farms in our area.”
Frascatore stated, “By purchasing products that are locally produced, we can contribute financially to our community and help support sustainability, as well as the health of the planet overall!”
The financial impact is especially important for rural New York.
Union’s effort to showcase local producers and suppliers reflects a market phenomenon called the “multiplier effect.” When people and institutions buy locally, the money they spend at small businesses and farms stays in the community.
The community-based merchants then spend that money on other local services, like accounting, advertising, contracting and transportation. As a result, more local jobs for local residents are created.
When people buy from big box stores, there is no guarantee that money they spend will stay local. Chain stores can be more efficient and offer lower prices to consumers than can smaller stores.
But, in recent years, more and more consumers are willing to pay a little more for food grown and produced in their neighborhoods. Schenectady, for example, has a large farmer’s market, known as the Greenmarket, each Sunday on Jay Street.
Union is following the same sustainable trend by partnering with these local farmers.
So, the next time you indulge in a cider donut or scoop up some humus with slices of pita, your taste buds can thank the hard work of local farmers and suppliers who together are working to grow food, their businesses and their communities.