The State of Sustainable Foods

Date posted: June 30, 2014

Sustainable Foods at Bellevue College is growing thanks to active membership and exciting projects. Over the last year and a half, the Sustainable Foods movement at Bellevue College transformed from an idea to reality as interested students, staff, and faculty

Now, the Sustainable Foods program is moving on from the Office of Sustainability. Specifically, Student Programs will take on the leadership of the Sustainable Foods project.

Sustainable Foods began in January of 2013. The purpose of this temporary program was to research methods of infusing sustainability into food service practices. This included research into 1) local food sourcing, 2) organic ingredients sourcing, and 3) “healthy” foods. In addition to the three research goals, Sustainable Foods engaged members of the Bellevue College community, making the Sustainable Foods Group (SFG).

The SFG has been influential in guiding and shaping the Sustainable Foods program. In particular, it has advised the direction of the program as information and new opportunities arise. The three initial Sustainable Foods goals have grown and changed over time, and the SFG has collaboratively responded. Below is a brief report on the initial program goals:

1)      Local Foods: Food Services procures food from large distributors (e.g. Sysco) which complicates the process of locating the exact origin of a particular product. These distributors purchase from farms that may have multiple locations in different states, so the distributor does not maintain the precise origin of a particular head of lettuce.

In order to address this concern, Sustainability at Bellevue College has initiated the first on-going Produce Market that sells local fruits and vegetables. The first on-going Local Produce Market began in Spring 2014 and will continue in Fall 2014.

2)      Organic Ingredients: Food Services purchases organic salad ingredients in the salad bar. Members of the SFG, as well as other members of the community, have expressed how much they appreciate this option.

3)      “Healthy” Food Options: Members of the community and SFG contribute many ideas for healthy foods. This is a broad category has been refined into five separate projects.

  • Options for low-income students who rely on Electronic Food Benefits (food stamps). A food “pantry” will serve students at-risk of hunger. It will be a food pick-up and donation point.
  • Culturally appropriate foods that respect cultural or religious dietary restrictions. SFG continues to engage the leadership of students clubs.
  • Knowledge of and access to foods for customers with food allergies or other restrictions. This project has moved forward in Food Services with access to labeling software for different food products.
  • For students bringing food from home, a food preparation area (sinks, prep area, etc.) This project is moving forward and will be constructed in the coming months.

As the Sustainable Foods program moves forward in Student Programs, these projects will move forward through the summer. It’s goals for the summer include the following:

1)      Definition of SFG, its mission, vision, scope;

2)      Completion of student pantry;

3)      Sustainable hunger relief project and other sustainable food project;

4)      EBT card solution on campus and food related projects.