by Jake Fraser, staff writer
The recent contract renewal with Sodexo brought $20,000 to the farm and garden to improve food production infrastructure, a huge renovation to Gladfelter, an increase in meal plan cost, and the addition of a Sustainable Foods manager to Sodexo’s payroll—Jenna Marshman.
Sodexo recently hired Marshman, a 2007 Warren Wilson alum, as a Sustainable Foods manager and Sustainable Foods crew supervisor. Marshman inherited a responsibility to asses and lobby for sustainable foods on our campus.
Marshman is from Atlanta Georgia and graduated from Warren Wilson with a degree in Sustainable Agriculture, she got put on heavy duty freshman year and later worked on Landscaping, helping establish and create the Eco-Garden. She is familiar with the Warren Wilson dance.
“The reason they hired me is because I know how it is here,” Marshman said.
Marshman will be responsible for conducting a local foods audit, establishing purchasing contracts with local farms, gathering data from students about dining preferences, and creating public awareness of local food usage on our campus. All is to more fully integrate sustainable foods into our meal plan and further help dissipate any information disconnect between students and Sodexo.
“I think I’m a good liaison between Sodexo and the campus,” Marshman said.
Marshman understands what it is like to be on this campus and sometimes disappointed with the dining services; she also thinks she can change this. Communication and understanding between Sodexo and the campus would allow for food choices to better reflect student interests. While Sodexo has always asked, “Are you satisfied with their dining experience?” the food provider’s recent additions are expected to deliver significant improvements to food service and sustainable practices on campus.
Establishing a better public awareness of local foods through communicative, transparent dialogue, Marshman hopes, will reconcile student desires and Sodexo resources. For example, Sage Cafe uses almost all local and organic staples,even flour and sugar–a fact that is not always known, appreciated, or rallied for. Marshman and the recently revived, two-person Sustainable Foods crew—all under Sodexo payroll—will be working on drawing public awareness to our existing local foods.
“We want to get the word out about what is local,” Marshman said.
The crew will conduct a local foods audit, collecting and compiling data on local and sustainable food use at Wilson. The last audit took place between 2008 and 2009.
The crew will also work on ways to increase the percentage of local food that Sodexo uses, through local farm purchasing contracts and conscientious distributor choices. The sustainable foods crew is organizing four, all-local dinners, held at staff houses and open to the public.
As a result of the new Sustainable Foods manager and the sustainable Foods crew, our campus can expect to see more local and organic foods.