Intervale Food Hub Becomes Approved UVM Dining Vendor
The Intervale Food Hub, a social enterprise of Burlington-based nonprofit Intervale Center, is now an approved vendor to UVM Dining at the University of Vermont. The Intervale Food Hub is known for its subscription baskets containing local products including vegetables, eggs, meat, yogurt, and cheese from 40 Vermont producers. Several of the producers are located in Burlington’s Intervale, less than two miles from the UVM campus.
Sodexo employees visit Intervale Center farms and tour the Intervale Food Hub
The Intervale Center and UVM Dining have been working together for almost a decade and both parties are excited to take their partnership to the next level this month. The Intervale Food Hub’s approved vendor status with UVM Dining is the launch of its wholesale distribution to institutions. UVM Dining’s commitment will provide a new market opportunity for Vermont farm and food producers, support UVM’s Real Food Campus Commitment and aligns with Sodexo’s Vermont First Pledge.
Chefs will be able to source local and many certified organic products from the Intervale Food Hub’s online ordering platform. The product is often not harvested until an order is placed. “It’s incredible that our chefs will be using a state-of-the-art ordering system to buy produce when it is still in the ground,” said Melissa Zelazny, UVM Dining Resident District Manager. For this reason, UVM Dining makes volume predictions for the items they need and the Intervale Food Hub builds on existing relationships with Vermont farms to ensure that crops will be planted to meet demand.
“We are very excited about this partnership,” said Travis Marcotte, the Intervale Center’s Executive Director. “It presents an amazing market opportunity for Vermont farm and food producers, it also allows us at the Intervale Center to fulfill our mission building a stronger community food system.”
The partnership is a win-win for college students hungry for local food and Vermont farms seeking to grow their businesses. About 70% of UVM students, in a 2013 survey, indicated they were willing to pay a premium for food that was local, humane, organic or fair trade. Follow up focus groups suggested that the local attribute was more valued than the other three. Many UVM students and employees visit, study, work and eat food from the Intervale. Bringing food from the Intervale Food Hub into the dining halls makes perfect sense.
The Intervale Food Hub maintains complete transparency across the supply chain, allowing chefs and consumers to know the exact farm source of each product. “The Food Hub is an innovative solution, providing consumers with better food and boosting the local food economy,” said Marcotte. “This partnership shows that UVM Dining is committed to getting more local food on students’ plates and making a real community impact.”
The Intervale Food Hub worked with its farm partners in advance to coordinate supply for this fall. Crop planning each spring will prepare the Intervale Food Hub and their partners to continue growing to meet the demand of UVM Dining, which serves 13,000 meals per day on campus.
“This is an innovative Farm to Institution model,” said Joe Speidel, University of Vermont’s Director of Community and Local Government Relations. “It’s a collaboration between a local non-profit, a state university, and a national food management company.”
UVM Dining will be buying staples like carrots, salad greens and tomatoes but also taking the opportunity to educate students about lesser-known varieties by integrating bok choi, celeriac and fennel into their menus. “We’re excited about the additional local products this one-of-a-kind relationship will bring to students. This initiative directly aligns with our goal to be the leader in sustainable campus food systems and we see this as an opportunity to further food systems education and academic partnerships at UVM,” said Zelazny.
“UVM Dining’s commitment to supporting the production and purchase of local food across Vermont is helping Vermont accomplish its Farm to Plate goals,” said Ellen Kahler of Vermont Farm to Plate. “This partnership will increase the amount of Vermont food products consumed by Vermonters, local food production, and the amount of locally produced food available in Vermont institutions.”
The Intervale Food Hub’s first delivery to campus was on Tuesday, August 18th.