EMU Reaps Harvest of Locally-Grown Food

Bibb lettuce that traveled about 10 miles from Marlan Showalter’s farm to the table formed the base of a veggie wrap that was among the fare served at EMU’s dining hall‘s first meal of locally-grown food, held Oct. 1.

“The meal was amazing,” said Leah Risser, a sophomore liberal arts major from Greencastle, Pa. “It was among the best that I have had at EMU. Real mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables are always a good choice.” Charlotte Wenger, a sophomore theater and English major from Lancaster, Pa., agreed.

EMU students Charlotte Wenger and Leah Risser
Charlotte Wenger (l.) and Leah Risser sample locally-grown fare at a “harvest meal” in university dining hall. Photo by Lindsey Roeschley

EMU’s dining hall and Creation Care Council sponsored the meal, which featured ribs and pork from a pig fed on EMU dining hall scraps, to raise awareness about where food comes from. More than 400 students, faculty, staff and local farmers shared the meal; a typical Wednesday night sees about 200 patrons in the dining hall.

“Most people expect to eat all the variety of fruits and vegetables year-round,” noted Evan Showalter, a Port Republic, Va., Mennonite farmer who provided broccoli for the meal. “It just doesn’t work that way.”

Showalter, his wife Judith and young son enjoyed the meal and their first visit to campus. “I’ve been looking for people to supply locally so it is good to find out EMU wants to purchase local food,” he said.

Bruce Emmerson, Pioneer Catering director at EMU, spearheaded the meal together with student workers and Dr. Peter Dula, assistant professor in the Bible and religion department.

“I appreciate that students are interested in making our dining hall as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible,” Emmerson said. “It’s not always the most convenient, or even cheapest, to do things like eat locally grown food, but we’re committed to support EMU’s efforts to be as green a campus as possible.”

Pioneer Catering production manager Monica Becks and service manager Ramona Lantz “put a tremendous amount of energy into making the meal happen,” Emmerson noted.

Other ‘Green’ Initiatives

Currently, Emmerson is working with student leaders who are advocating for the campus dining hall to go “trayless.” Cutting, or at least limiting, the number of trays used at each meal would significantly cut the amount of water used to wash the trays, which often aren’t even dirty after use.

In addition, studies at other universities have shown that eliminating use of trays cuts down on food waste as students take only what they can easily carry in their hands, thinking twice about grabbing that extra item.

More information on EMU’s efforts to “be green,” and a video featuring the EMU garden, a green design class and a class on composting dining hall Waste are available at www.emu.edu/begreen.