BOZEMAN — Thanks in large part to Montana State University’s local food purchasing program known as Farm to Campus, the university now buys more than 20 percent of its food products locally, according to university officials.
In fiscal year 2016, MSU’s Farm to Campus purchases totaled more than $1.5 million, or 22.4 percent of the university’s total food purchases, according to Kara Landolfi, Farm to Campus coordinator. That percentage is expected to increase by the end of fiscal year 2017, she added.
One of the program’s most recent examples of investing in local food is the purchase of 30 lambs both raised and finished for slaughter by the MSU College of Agriculture’s Department of Animal and Range Sciences. In March, MSU Culinary Services – which houses the university’s Farm to Campus program – partnered with the department to purchase the animals. The meat, which was processed at Pioneer Meats in Big Timber, is likely to be used by the end of the semester, Landolfi said. Culinary Services serves food in MSU’s dining halls and Strand Union Building retail operations, as well as through University Catering and concessions. MSU Farm to Campus was formerly known as Montana Made.
“As the largest university food service operator in the state of Montana, MSU Culinary Services is in a unique position to leverage their buying volumes with local producers to provide them with reliable demand for their products,” Landolfi said.
The recent partnership between Culinary Services and the Department of Animal and Range Sciences blossomed from an initial collaboration with MSU’s Steer-A-Year program, according to Landolfi. Through Steer-A-Year, last fall Culinary Services purchased and served meat from nine steers that MSU students had raised. Landolfi said that she expects Culinary Services to purchase approximately 30 Steer-A-Year program steers this summer, and all of that beef is estimated to be consumed within the fall semester.
Tom Murphy, assistant professor of sheep production in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences, said that the partnership and future efforts to incorporate university-grown and finished lamb onto dining hall menus is a “great opportunity to introduce students and the MSU community to American lamb while stressing the importance of a well-balanced meal.”
Providing food for MSU students to consume is satisfying for the students and researchers who raise the animals, as well, added Patrick Hatfield, head of the Department of Animal and Range Sciences.
Rich Huffman, director of MSU Culinary Services, said that Culinary Services is pleased to support MSU’s land-grant mission of “focusing on the teaching of practical agriculture.
“We do this by collaborating with local producers, ranchers and farmers, and by supporting students and future producers from our College of Agriculture,” he said.
Huffman said that while the MSU Farm to Campus program is working internally to source the most local meat possible, the program couldn’t do it without the assistance of Montana’s local meat processors.
“Most rewarding is developing relationships with our local partners, and really understanding and sincerely appreciating what it takes to bring our food from farm to campus,” Huffman said.
Contact: Carly Toalson, marketing/media specialist, MSU Culinary Services, (406) 994-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Student-raised meat now served in MSU dining hall - August 9, 2016