West Virginia University will host its annual 100-Mile Meal at the Café Evansdale dining center on Thursday (Oct. 13) with all major menu ingredients sourced from a 100 mile radius of the Evansdale campus. The evening is the result of a partnership between WVU Dining, The Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, WVU Extension Service, and dozens of local farmers.
The dinner will be served as part of the normal student dining experience from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with students using their Dining Plans to enjoy the evening’s menu. The event is also open to the public at the cost of $11.25 per person.
The 100 Mile-Meal Challenge concept was developed to teach diners about the process of getting food from the farm to the table. While markets, restaurants, and grocery stores are all options for farmers looking to sell their crops, WVU continues its experiment to add collegiate dining programs to the list of potential buyers. The result could be a business partnership that benefits the local farming economy while reducing the environmental impact of long-range product shipping.
“Feeding a family of four with locally sourced ingredients is as simple as a trip to the farmer’s market. Sourcing the same dinner for a family of 1,000 students is a whole other challenge,” said Chef John Thomas, production manager and senior chef at Café Evansdale. “We have already received many of the ingredients and they’re all top quality. We are busy turning tomatoes into marinara sauce and peaches into preserves for cobblers.”
“The 100-Mile Meal Challenge is just a beginning that we hope will lead every school in the state of West Virginia to actively support sustainable, resilient and healthy food and water systems,” said Megan Govindan, director of the WVU Didactic Program in Dietetics and associate professor in Human Nutrition and Foods. “The participants in the challenge are educating and promoting access to fresh, local and real food throughout their school or university. In West Virginia, 45 of 55 counties are serving local foods in their cafeterias.”
The WVU student organization Food Recovery Network, a national non-profit organization that aims to reduce food waste in local communities by transporting unused food products to local food pantries and homeless shelters, is the dinner’s newest partner.