On Friday August 24th, Zag Dining by Sodexo’s Resident District Manager, Chuck Faulkinberry, hosted a dinner for the Real Food Challenge training group at his family farm house in Chattaroy, Washington. The purpose of the dinner, sponsored by Zag Dining, was to not only focus on local and seasonal food, but also to bring a variety of students, administrators, faculty, Sodexo managers and directors and RFC representatives together in an intimate setting for a discussion about the role dining services plays in a college campus environment.
The exquisite dinner was prepared by Zag Dining’s Certified Executive Chef Thomas Morisette who took the time to explain every dish and from where all the ingredients were harvested. The menu included: Painted Hills Beef Sliders served on homemade Shepherd’s Grain rolls, Grilled MSC Certified Pacific Salmon with organic tomato and basil relish, Spokane Local Vegetable Medley, Roasted Skagit Valley Tricolored Fingerling Potatoes, Spokane Artisan Cheese, Shepherd’s Grain Crisps, Food ALliance Certified & Local Hummus with Shepherd’s Grain Bread, Summertime Gazpacho Shooters with organic local tomatoes, cucumber and bell pepper, Organic Red Quinoa Salad and an impressive Bibb Lettuce salad using lettuce that was grown hydroponically in the window of Gonzaga University’s resident dining hall that was harvested that afternoon. The salad also featured Yakima nectarines, homemade red pepper buttermilk dressing and local blue cheese. The dinner was accompanied by local Washington wines as well as fresh local huckleberry lemonade.
After everyone filled their plates, Emma Brewster, RFC’s NW Regional Coordinator, had everyone around the tables introduce themselves and the role they are playing in the Real Food Challenge. The list was impressive including key people who are pivotal in making changes. Present at the dinner table were:
Kassi Kain, Dean of Students-Gonzaga University
Ellen Maccarone, Philosophy Professor and EAT Club Advisor-Gonzaga University
Pam Smith, Vice PResident of Operations for the West-Sodexo
Kristi Thiesen, Senior Sustainability Manager-Sodexo
Thomas Morisette, Executive Chef, CEC-Zag Dining by Sodexo
Chuck Faulkinberry, Resident DIstrict Manager-ZAg Dining by Sodexo
Dan Harris, Resident Dining Director-Zag DIning by Sodexo
Sarah Clifford, Marketing Manager-ZAg Dining by Sodexo
David Schwartz, Campaign Director-Real Food Challenge
Breland Draper, Northwest Field Organizer-Real Food Challenge
Brian Estes, Owner-Ornery Heron Farm in Spokane and Gonzaga Alum
Breanne Flynn, Co-Founder of EAT and Real Food Challenge Student Coordinator at Gonzaga University
Katie, Member of EAT & Real Food Challenge Student Coordinator-Gonzaga University
Ellen, Member of EAT & Real Food Challenge Student Coordinator-Gonzaga University
Chelsea, Real Food Challenge Student Coordinator-Western Washington
Kimberly, Real Food Challenge Student Coordinator-Flathead Valley
Anthony, Real Food Challenge Student Coordinator-Eastern Washington
Donna, Real Food Challenge Student Coordinator-University of Idaho
The discussion, which was led by Emma Brewster, covered a range of topics regarding food purchasing on college campuses and the buying power that large companies have. Emma explained the Real Food Challenge’s vision which states:
“The Real Food Challenge leverages the power of youth and universities to create a healthy, fair and green food system.
Our primary campaign is to shift $1 billion of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms and junk food and towards local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources—what we call “real food”—by 2020.”
While the questions were directed at individuals, the discussion was open to everyone to contribute by adding comments or asking follow up questions. When asked about why he thought it was important as the RDM of Zag Dining to work with the RFC, Chuck Faulkinberry answered by saying, “ Students are more focused on our communities, and what we are putting into our bodies. It is important to educate and learn from the students while balancing what makes sense for our students and for our business. This generation will be the ones to deal with feeding a world population of 9 billion by 2050. We need to work together to find healthy solutions.”
Chef Thomas added onto that by saying, “It creates an opportunity to share a mutual passion with our students and I take great pride in knowing we will be contributing to the need of locally grown products and sustainable products.”
As an administrator, Kassi Kain, the Dean of Students for Gonzaga University, offered her perspective on why it is important as an administrator to embrace Real Food. “We [Gonzaga] believe in Cura Personalis which is the caring for the whole person by educating ones mind, body and spirit. Real Food is a great example of caring for ourselves and one another over a common goal and necessity. Real Food doesn’t just support health and wellness, but it directly correlates with our Jesuit Mission in ethical sourcing.”
Zag Dining, who is participating in the Real Food Challenge, is currently going through the Calculator tool portion of the Challenge which calculates what percentage of their purchasing is spent on Real Food. Chuck Faulkinberry joked, “I wish we could have gone through this process a few years ago and see all the changes we had made from even just two years ago! But, we know there is always room for improvement, so we look forward to seeing the results and working with RFC to push us forward to be the leader in the Pacific Northwest.”
Overall, the evening was a great success with great discussion and many positive stories. Everyone who attended not only raved about the food, but more importantly about the relationships and connections they had made over a wonderful Real meal.
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