Food. We think about it, dream about it, and eat it, but rarely do we think about where it comes from. The same can’t be said for Jeff Gill (director) and Jon Royal (chef and manager), of Red River College’s Food Services. These two have local food high on their radar.
Red River College’s Food Services is committed to being mindful of choices on campus and the food products purchased. When possible, local and sustainably sourced food is prioritized. This goal of sustainability aligns well with staff and students’ desire to have access to a variety of fresh, healthy and reasonably-priced foods on campus.
Where does our food come from?
Food Services has formed many relationships with local food producers. Some of RRC’s local suppliers include:
- Chicken – Granny’s Poultry and Dunn-Right Food Products
- Eggs & pasta products – Nature’s Farm
- Samosas – Zaika The Indian Cuisine
- Quinoa – Prairie Quinoa (all grown in Manitoba)
- Veggies – Greenland Gardens
- Berkshire Pork – Zinn Farms
Food is grown on campus, too! Beets, potatoes, carrots, and herbs are just some of the delicious vegetables grown steps away from where they are prepared and enjoyed. While most items are only available in late summer and early fall, some of the produce – like herbs – is used year-round. Basil, for instance, is pureed into yummy pesto and used in the Voyageur’s popular Hampton sandwich.
Making local even more local
Prior to 2018, “local” chicken fingers meant Manitoban chicken meat that was processed in Hamilton, Ontario. In order to bring the processing closer to home, RRC Food Services partnered with Little Bones and Granny’s Poultry Cooperative, RRC’s chicken supplier, in 2018. Because the college has such a high demand for the product (Food Services goes through 35-40 cases a week) and the push for local production has grown in Winnipeg, Granny’s Poultry will now process chicken fingers in Brandon, Manitoba. The demand in Winnipeg for locally processed chicken fingers is high enough that Granny’s are in the process of building a bigger plant.
This is a great example of how the college is using its purchasing power to work with local industry and bring products closer to home.
Food Services’ other healthy-planet initiatives:
Green Catering: In 2018, catering services eliminated wasteful single-serve items like sugar, creamers and single-use plastic water bottles from their catering menu. Stay tuned for bigger green catering changes! “We’re just in the beginning stages,” says Jeff Gill.
Single-Serve Switch-Out: Single-serve items cause a lot of waste. That’s why in 2018, single-serve creamers and sugars at the College were replaced with a condiment station containing sugar shakers and thermal jugs of cream and milk. Salt and pepper will move in this direction, once the current supply runs out. The College also no longer supplies straws.
Fair Trade products: Red River College Food Service locations serve Spirit Bear coffee, a fair trade, organic, Halaal, and kosher house blend. To top it off, Spirit Bear commits funds to the Northern Lights Wildlife Society.
PGI campus and Jane’s restaurant serve fair-trade, organic coffee from De Luca’s, a local company that roast their beans at their location on McGillivray.
Composting food waste: Instead of throwing out pre-consumer organic waste like fruit and veggie scraps, food service locations save it for composting where it’s turned into nutrient-rich soil. The circle of life begins again.
EcoMug Discount: Some say a penny for your thoughts, we say a dime for your sustainable efforts. All food service outlets provide a $0.10 discount with an EcoMug.