College students living away from home appreciate a reminder of home, and for many, that reminder is sometimes a cold glass of milk.
Milk has earned its rightful place in many campus dining halls across New England, and that’s great news not only to parents worried whether their kids are making healthy choices, but to the region’s dairy farmers.
“The milk we serve is local, and it tastes great, and that plays well with the college crowd,” says Hank Strashnick, general manager of Sodexo dining services at St. Michael’s College outside Burlington, VT.
The dining hall caters to almost all of St. Michael’s 1,900 students (this is a residential liberal arts college, so most students live on campus). The facility serves 21,000 meals per week, and 33% of the food represents local brands or is sourced locally, says Strashnick. Local food is a big concern for today’s college students, who are ever mindful of sustainable food policies and the environmental impact of “food miles.”
The milk served at St. Michael’s comes from family farms across the region, as does the milk products served a few miles down the road, at the University of Vermont dining hall, called The Marketplace.
Here, it’s evident that today’s college students are more sophisticated in their tastes, with sushi and falafel available alongside more traditional cafeteria fare. However, Cathy Barrows, Sodexo operations director, admits that mac-n-cheese (made with milk, of course!) remains a favorite.
Barrows smiles. “Oh, and they really like their chocolate milk!”
The Marketplace serves up to 3,200 students a day, and given the class schedule, the expansive facility in the Davis Center attracts students in waves on a typical day. One minute, there are only a few students wandering the space, checking out the offerings, and the next moment, two dozen students are standing in line for Thai food, vegetarian offerings, brick-oven pizza or order something from the grill.
And for extra credit…We’re pleased to note that UVM and St. Michael’s participate in the Keep Local Farms Fund, which helps dairy farmers across New England to improve environmental and economic resilience and sustainability and increase opportunities for customer, community and farmer education.