Farm FreshGAMBIER, Ohio (April 1, 2005) When it comes to building a local food system, helping to sustain family farms, and changing the way college students think about food, Kenyon College is a leader in the field. This summer, Kenyon will open a dialogue with a national audience about these topics as it hosts the second annual National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, June 16 through 18.
The conference will promote ways in which colleges and other institutions can buy food from local farmers. Titled "Putting Local Food on the Table: Farms and Food Service in Partnership," the event is designed to bring family farmers together with institutional food distributors, buyers, and preparers.
Food for Thought, a program at Kenyon that brings fresh foods to the College's dining halls, is part of a national movement in farm-to-cafeteria projects. College dining halls, hospitals, nursing homes, and schools across the country are looking for ways to use locally grown foods.
According to Howard Sacks, director of Kenyon's Rural Life Center and one of the conference organizers, these initiatives carry direct benefits to all involved. "Consumers gain access to a great variety of fresh, nutritious foods and farmers benefit from a dependable market for their goods. At a time when Americans are increasingly concerned about health issues including obesity and heart disease, these efforts can also educate us all about the food we eat."
The National Farm to Cafeteria Conference will explore the issues surrounding these initiatives through workshops, presentations, field trips, and a film festival. The keynote speakers are Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, and David Kline, author of Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer's Journal. Registration, a schedule of events, and additional information about the conference is available online at www.foodsecurity.org.
Kenyon's Food for Thought program illustrates the profound impact that farm-to-cafeteria programs can have on the local farming community. "We're using our program as an engine for economic and social sustainability in Knox County," says Sacks. "Promoting the purchase of local foods keeps food dollars within the community and maintains an agricultural way of life that residents value."
The National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is sponsored by the Community Food Security Coalition, Farm Aid, Kenyon, the Center for Food and Justice, Food Routes, and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.