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UTSC one of ten chosen for Greenbelt Fund to support local food programs

UTSC received funding through the Greenbelt Fund for its local food initiatives like the Farmer's Market. (Photo by Ken Jones).

The University of Toronto Scarborough will expand its sustainable food programs with support from a new funding program designed to encourage local food initiatives.

UTSC was one of ten institutions recently selected province-wide as a 2014 Local Food Challenge participant with support from the Greenbelt Fund, a non-profit organization that supports local food initiatives in public institutions, retail, and foodservice markets.

“Supporting local food producers is important to the UTSC community,” says Billi Jo Cox, project coordinator and assistant to the director of business development. “This grant will help us expand our established programs and offer new local food and educational programs geared towards our community.”  

UTSC is already committed to high local food purchases and to programs such as the well-attended indoor and outdoor farmers’ markets, community gardens and bee hives that produce honey which is sold at the farmer’s market.

Through its food-services provider Aramark, approximately 600 meals are served on campus daily.  UTSC already purchases 34 per cent of its food through Ontario producers, including 24 per cent of its produce. “These numbers are very high for an institution of our size,” says Cox. “Most other universities have local food purchases well under 20 per cent.”

The funding will support further increasing the percentage of local food purchases, offering a local food option on H-Wing menus and a meet-and-greet program with a chef preparing meals using local ingredients. An upcoming session in March will feature a macaroni and cheese recipe using local squash and cheese.

Other new programs include a visit to a local farm in the fall, a “Chef-Off” cooking competition featuring dishes using local ingredients and educational programs for students on the benefits of purchasing local products, says Cox.

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