Addressing the RFP for contracting of Aramark for the food service at The Evergreen State College and informing the public of current state.
Topics of interest include-
1-identification of contract timeline 2-who is making the final decisions 3-what is generating these decisions, nutrition or financial feasibility 4-participants from staff and public (Evergreen Community) 5-how informed is the community 6-other concerned stakeholders 7-potential for petition 8-sustainability factor 9-other solutions for food service 10-facalty involvement 11-possibility of forum or community panel
past TESC discussions
Open Letter to the Evergreen Community
This letter is in response to an email sent to the evergreen community on May 1st, 2012 regarding the dining services Request for Proposals (RFP) Committee. The email, with the subject "Developments in Residential and Dining Services", announced to the community that the current dining services contract will be ending in August of 2013.
The email contained a document that listed the various stakeholders represented on the committee, as well as presenting a tentative timeline for the process of drafting a RFP, reviewing submitted proposals from food service contractors, and recommending Evergreen's next dining services provider.
As concerned students and Evergreen community members, we are unsatisfied with the time allotted to the gathering of community feedback and opinion of dining services, which under the current tentative timeline is meant to take place this quarter (Spring 2012).
Considering that this announcement was not made until half way through the quarter, and provided no organized framework in which community feedback should be gathered, we request that this timeline be modified to allow for the community to respond in an organized and thoughtful manner.
The question of where our food comes from is an important one for the Evergreen community, and we propose that this process should be as transparent as possible to allow for all stakeholders (which includes all members of the community) to be meaningfully involved in the process.
As students engaged in the study of food systems and community activism, we would be more than willing to assist with the RFP process through research, helping to create an inclusive process for gathering of community feedback, and raising of community awareness on this important issue.
All interested members of the community should attend our interest meeting on ??? where we will identify key concerns and next steps.
Above is a link to a local food survey done by Kenyon College... a lot of it is not applicable, but I think it can help us get a sense of the types of questions to include.
Also this might be interesting: http://www.westminstercollege.edu/pdf/environmental_center/Campus%20Sustainability%20Food%20Survey.pdf
- How do you define local food?
- How highly do you value it?
- Do you believe that all community members should have equal say in where their food comes from?
- If an open use, community kitchen existed on campus, would you use it?
Looking at what services are available for food is important to any school but how do we make effective decisions that are informative? Are we as a community welcome to participate or are we subjected to decisions made by others due to financial incentives? Today in a changing global economy it is ever so important to understand what is local, sustainable, feasible, and healthy with consideration of what we eat. Nutrition should always be at the forefront of the minds of all students and the opportunity to participate is imperative. This is especially important for new students since the actions we take today will affect future students more than it will affect current students. This means that the foresight necessary to make these decisions must be selfless, informed, and practical at the very least. What do you know about your food and how it is prepared, served, selected, purchased, disposed, cleaned, and delivered? Would you like the opportunity to participate in this process?
Food is in many ways the center of life, it is, literally, what keeps us alive and breathing. Beyond this basic function, food also enlivens culture, and is a powerful source of identity, pride, and human connection. Nowadays, food is also highly political; the types of foods that people consume is often a reflection of their values and beliefs, and almost always a reflection of their economic status.
These two roles that food plays in the modern world; the first as a timeless and necessary source of energy, health and community, and the second, as a reflection of a person's financial means, are morally contradictory to each other: If food is necessary for life, why doesn't everyone have access to equally healthy food?
To answer this question we would have to delve deep into the complexities of the globalized economy, industrial mono-cropping, and the production of commodity foods which contain processed, subsidized crops such as corn and soy. This is a large task, but the main lesson to be conveyed here, is that it is profoundly important for communities to build and support local food systems.
Local food systems help to keep resources within communities, nurtures community involvement and sense of belonging, and helps to alleviate pressure on the natural environment. Engaging in a local food system is one of the most immediate and gratifying actions that an individual can take to help themselves grow and thrive within the context of a healthy community.
- Creating Bridges: Enhancing Local Food Connections
- Education, Health, and Community: Building a Local Food Economy
- Cultural Enrichment through Local Foods
_ Kevin Petrie CIRAL Food Group Spring 2012
Grown Together: Creating Community Supported Food Systems
Currently, on Gooey Duck Beach, something unprecedented is happening. A patch of rock and sand visible only at the lowest tide is being prepared for a transformation. So far, the only evidence of what's to come is a few stout stakes pounded into the flats, but by the end of June, 2012, there should be groups of nondescript, black mesh bags tied down in neat rows. Inside those bags will be the beginnaings of a garden. While shellfish farming has been practiced for centuries, and is prevalent in many parts of Puget Sound, no university has ever attempted to create a shellfish garden before. Because it is a new idea, it provides an excellent lens through which to view some of the challenges facing those seeking to integrate food systems into local communities.
Perhaps the largest single barrier to integrated community food systems is the very population they are meant to serve and assist. In order to gain the support of community members, it is imperative that the public be educated in the ways and means of food production. People must understand why a good idea is beneficial before they can agree that it is good. This is true whether a neighborhood wants to create a garden plot in an unused lot, a municipality wants to change the laws governing livestock in suburban and urban areas, or, as at Evergreen, a club wants to create a means of sustainably producing seafood. Why is a big deal. For example, to effectively encourage others to raise vegetables in a community space, one might provide demonstrations highlighting the superiority of locally grown produce. Something as simple as a picnic or barbeque can serve as a platform for education. If there is food, people will come, and once people are eating, they are much more likely to listen. Talk about the health benefits, the environmental benefits, and the social benefits of the project. With Evergreen's forthcoming shellfish garden the benefits are easily espoused: Most of south Puget Sound was once covered in oysters. A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day. Healthy shellfish populations reduce nitrogen and combat the formation of 'dead zones'. It's important to avoid rhetoric that may create feelings of ill-will. The term 'shellfish farm' has largely been abandoned due to it's (unfair) association with the term 'fish farm'. Shellfish garden just sounds friendlier. When people where shellfish farm they may associate it with many of the well-documented negative aspects of aquaculture prevalent in operations that raise salmon or shrimp, namely increased nitrogen levels and the overuse of hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics. Shellfish farming harbors none of these downsides, and should not be associated with these ill-effects. When the Puget Sound Restoration Fund noticed these associations it chose to embrace the term 'shellfish garden' and applied that term to it's community shellfish operation at Henderson Inlet in south Puget Sound. It's a misnomer of course. Shellfish are animals not plants. A shellfish garden raises livestock and can much more accurately be referred to as a farm. But who cares? Whenever possible, use words that are easy to embrace.
Know Your Allies
When creating any integrated food system it is important to identify helpful agencies and individuals as early as possible. Land owners and/or managers are perhaps the most important to keep in mind. Every community integrated food system needs a place. A formal land use agreement is absolutely imperative and should fit the requirements of the project. A neighborhood garden needs sunlight, available water, decent soil, and not much else. An orchard requires significantly more land, but may not need watering on a daily basis. A neighborhood duck pond for meat and eggs necessitates a host of specific traits. In the case of the Evergreen shellfish farm, the land requirements were easily met by much of gooey duck beach, but because the beach is subject to a host of academic uses, concessions had to be made, and all persons with a vested interest in the beach had to be consulted. In addition, permission had to be obtained from the state, county, Department of Natural Resources, Department of the Interior, etc. etc. etc. One must attempt to identify allies in every organization with which one must work. Similar organizations in the area can be incredibly useful in meeting helpful people. Without the help of The Henderson Community Shellfish Garden, the planners of the Evergreen Shellfish Garden would have had a much more difficult time working through the permitting process. They also might not have been able to convince the Taylor Shellfish Company to donate the seed a supplies for the initial crop of oysters. Create a network of allies early and work to maintain it. Volunteer with similar projects in the area, talk to anyone who will listen, organize meetings (with food), and always be excited.
A successful project should know where it's going. A simple garden to serve a small community has an easily established endpoint, but why stop? One of the best ways to create sustainable growth in a community integrated food system is through education. By integrating an educational compnent into a project, it can become self sustaining and self replicating.
The Evergreen Shellfish club has a number of goals for their project moving forward: To supply the community with fresh seafood, to help to rehabilitate a small section of the south sound, and to potentially create revenue for the school are all goals, but the primary purpose of the Evergreen Shellfish garden will be educational. It's core goal is to teach people about shellfish restoration, and to foster a sense of stewardship towards Puget Sound. It is this set of core values that will ultimately determine how the club and garden grow in the future, and how they integrate with the community at large.
There are a number of options available for future growth. One of the most attractive is the idea of transitioning from a simple club into a Community Supported Agriculture model, or CSA. CSA's allow members of the community to buy into a collective farm, garden, or aquaculture project, and reap the rewards of that project while sharing the risks between a large number of people. Typically, members pay an annual rate and are promised a share of whatever is harvested in proportion to their payment. The benefits of such a project to the organization include upfront payment to mitigate start up and planting costs. Receiving farm goods from a CSA system also serves to combat the general disconnect between farmers and consumers. In a CSA the customer knows exactly where the products are coming from right down the individual farm and the people responsible for maintaining it. There is also the option, in a non-profit model such as the Evergreen shellfish garden, of allowing individuals to trade labor for some or all of their share price, allowing lower income people to become directly involved and further encouraging stewardship and education. Because the garden is directly associated with the school, it would be a relatively simple matter to set up a partnership with The Flaming Eggplant or other on campus food provider to sell to students. Fresh, local clam chowder or oyster po' boys would probably go over fairly well here.
The downside of a CSA to consumers is it's uncertainty. If harvests are significantly lower than expected for any reason, shareholders can find themselves unable to collect what they have already paid for. The largest barrier to becoming a CSA to a small club or organization is legal. In order to sell goods directly to the public, even in a non-profit model, farms, gardens, or organizations must become commercially certified.
Barring the CSA model, the Evergreen Shellfish garden could easily focus solely on it's educational mission and have plenty of room to grow. Integration into an existing academic program, or the creation of an entire program based around aquaculture would certainly create a self sustaining framework through which to move forward.
Local Food Options & Volunteer Schedules
The West Olympia Farmers Market opened May 15th. It has a new time and location - Tuesday evenings from 4 to 7pm to serve those who commute through the west side. They are conveniently located in the large parking lot of Gloria Die Church at 1515 Harrison. They will have vegetables and starts plus a chance to pick up bakery items and soup for your evening meal.
Olympia Farmers Market :
700 N Capitol Way Olympia,wa 98501
Open 10a-3p Apr- Oct.&
Tumwater Farmers Market :
855 Trosper Rd. SW #219 Tumwater, WA 98512
Open every Wednesday from 11-2pm, June through October
Current Volunteer Opportunities :
Now Til Fall 2012: Volunteer with Left Foot Organics
Saturdays (9am to noon) and Tuesday to Friday (between 9 am to 3:30 pm) now to fall. You are invited to dig in the dirt while helping the youth in the Left Foot Organics <http://www.leftfootorganics.org/Volunteer.php> program. Email the coordinator to sign up (email@example.com)
Now to September 2012: Drop-in Days on the GRuB Farm
Wednesdays 4-7 pm now to September - Drop-in Days on the GRuB Farm at 2016 Elliott Ave NW, Olympia. Meet the youth in the program and help with the latest projects, which usually means getting your hands in that good rich GRuB soil. To volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org about " Farm Drop-ins." http://goodgrub.org/volunteer/
Sustainability Task Force Report 2006: http://evergreen.edu/sustainability/docs/coverdocument.pdf
"What's Green at Evergreen?": http://evergreen.edu/sustainability/green.htm
Edible Forest Project thesis: http://archives.evergreen.edu/masterstheses/Accession86-10MES/pyrooz_nMES2009.pdf
Plans for Summer and Fall
- Volunteer with local farms and community organizations related to food (such as GRuB, The Olympia Free Herbal Clinic, and The Thurston County Food Bank, and others)
- Develop resources and plans for fall (community networking, research into viable options for campus food service, project timeline and benchmarks)
- Raise community awareness about issue (interest meetings, collaboration with Campus Food Coalition, Flaming Eggplant, and others).
- Host lectures and forums related to local food issues, offer food preparation workshops.
- Develop a sustainable food purchasing policy (to be adopted by Evergreen admin.)
- Assess interest in developing a worker cooperative for food services (feasibility study, market research, worker interest in model)
- Explore options for open meal spaces on campus (community kitchen, recipe share, other ideas?)
- Put efforts toward expanding and utilizing all Evergreen farm space for the benefit of the Evergreen community as a whole
Motivations for Project
- Concern for the well-being and rights of food service workers
- Progress towards fulfilling Evergreen's values of sustainability and environmentalism.
- More opportunities for students to be involved in, and engage in the study of, local food systems, which has become an increasingly pertinent topic.
- Closing the local food chain gap between farms (Particularly Evergreen's)and student's plates.
- Local food sovereignty, or decreased dependence on the global industrial food system, and all the negative impacts that accompany it.
- Increased productivity, health, and engagement in students, through the benefits of truly nutritious food.