Name: Andy Cox, Smith College Dining Services
Location: Northampton, MA
How do you “Change Menus. Change Lives.” at Smith College? Smith College President, Kathleen McCartney, just recently signed the Real Food Challenge Campus Commitment to shift 20% of our campus wide food purchases to local and sustainable sources. The impact of our menu changes can be felt directly in our agriculturally rich Pioneer Valley community. We’ve gone from 9 to 19 local producers in the past year and a half, increasing our local and sustainable purchasing by 33%!
You recently did an educational Meat Matters demo with Board Member Adam Danforth! How was it? Meeting Adam at my first Chefs Collaborative Summit in Charleston was very inspirational. After, I really wanted to go back and share his message about eating better meat. To do that, I not only had to set up new farmer and slaughterhouse relationships, but I also had to decrease our total consumption which tied into the eat less meat ethos. At Smith, we do a great job running a vegan dining hall, but I wanted to highlight meat as a means of reducing meat consumption across campus. Adam’s engaging stories and personality were a perfect fit for a progressive campus like Smith College, and he spent some time with our staff on a farm slaughter and butchery demonstration. A few of the Sustainable Food Concentration students got involved too. Before the final dinner, we had a campus lecture and goat meat tasting. The students, faculty, and staff were blown away by the superior taste of a 6-year-old goat!
Where and how do you make the most impact at your institution? Institutions, especially colleges, have the moral imperative to consider inter-generational equity. We can’t educate students about social and environmental matters if we’re not willing to walk the walk on an operational level. Spending our food dollars on local, ecologically sound foods will only strengthen our relationships with the farming community in the future.
What is your advice for chefs in similar roles? 1. Share best practices and encourage healthy competition. There are plenty of small restaurant ideas I picked up from fellow Members at Chefs Collaborative Summits or from Chef Power Hours and challenged myself to try and implement them on a system serving over 5,000 meals a day.
2. Students have boundless energy and excitement for change, so whenever you need a little help getting an initiative off the ground, know that you can count on their support. I have yet to meet a millennial who is resistant to these changes!