Farm to Campus gives students a taste of Kentucky

By: Ray Bowman

Amanda Langlitz assists sous chef Darwin Gross in preparing a lunch at Transylvania University.

Amanda Langlitz assists sous chef Darwin Gross in preparing a lunch at Transylvania University.

Amanda Langlitz grew up on a 300-acre farm in New York where her family raised produce. Now she is the General Manager of food services at Transylvania University where she works closely with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Farm to Campus program to help Transy students connect to the source of their food. She thinks that’s a pretty logical progression.

In October 2014, Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer visited the Lexington, KY campus to officially recognize the university’s involvement in program.

The Kentucky Proud Farm to Campus Program helps participating higher education institutions place farm-fresh Kentucky Proud foods in their foodservice systems and shelf-stable Kentucky Proud products in their campus retail outlets.

The William T. Young Campus Center at Transylvania University houses the school’s food service operations.

The William T. Young Campus Center at Transylvania University houses the school’s food service operations.

Transylvania joined Asbury University, Campbellsville University, Eastern Kentucky University, Georgetown College, Morehead State University, Murray State, University of Louisville, University of Pikeville and Western Kentucky University in the program.

The Department of Agriculture partners with the schools to assist with buy-local efforts.

“Everyone has been great in providing resources,” Langlitz said. “We have a great relationship with the Department of Agriculture and our local food coordinator.”

Ashton Potter Wright was appointed Lexington’s local food coordinator in June 2014.

“When we first started, all we knew was how to get the produce,” Langlitz acknowledged. “That’s the easy part.”

Kentucky Proud foods are designated as such in the food service line at the university.

Kentucky Proud foods are designated as such in the food service line at the university.

With the assistance of their partners, locally grown meats and shelf-stable packaged products have also been identified through the Kentucky Proud program.

Langlitz noted that providing local food is a bit of a balancing act.

“When production is at its peak, school’s not in session,” she said.

For instance, Langlitz pointed out when summer berries are in season, they obtain all they can. The berries are then prepared and frozen on-site so that they may be used throughout the year.

“It’s about telling the story,” Langlitz explained. “Each year we have more and more students coming from out of state, so they don’t even know what (Kentucky Proud) means.”

To illustrate the importance of local food and their origins to incoming freshmen, the University sponsors a “Taste of Kentucky” for the students and their parents.

Langlitz admitted that the Farm to Campus program only provides a part of the food necessary for the meals they serve. She says her operation is taking a year to determine what percentage of the total food needs can be provided locally.

“When we know that, we’ll be able to take the next step and how we can increase our involvement with Kentucky Proud,” concluded Langlitz.

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