Louisa Denison, Food Literacy Project Coordinator with Harvard University Dining Services
Harvard University Dining Services serves just shy of 3 million meals a year in the residential program (2,993,329 meals in 2011, to be exact). We serve meals to a student body with a range of food preferences and backgrounds: of Harvard undergraduates, 9% are vegetarian, 4% have food allergies, 10% are international students. We have global food cuisine night on Friday nights, but we also source locally when we can; currently, 21% of the products we source are locally grown or made. Pizza and red spiced chicken are popular entrees, but so is the new fruit bar.
Harvard University Dining Services established the Food Literacy Project in 2004, with a mission to educate students about their food choices and continue the conversation around nutrition, sustainability, food preparation, and community. Given the variety of tastes and backgrounds of the student body…and given that the new food environment is full to bursting with terms like local, organic, fair-trade, GMO-free… we at Dining Services see education as vital to the dining experience.
Since 2004, the Food Literacy Project has gotten the conversation going; FLP runs a farmers’ market on campus, employs a student in every house to serve as a Food Literacy Project Rep, organizes cooking classes with each house chef and guest chefs, and hosts innumerable talks, movie screenings, and tastings.
Some of our events are about awareness (what is “seitan?”), some are about education (“Will eating local help the environment? Is the age of cooking dead?”), and some are just about eating (truffle making).
Some students sign up for every cooking class we offer; others are out to change the food system. We try to offer a variety of ways for students to become engaged in the food system.
Coming up this fall, the Food Literacy Project will continue a series of informal dinner conversations in dining halls, often with a professor or local food activist, on current food topics. Bring your dinner and stay for as long as you like. We’ll also be educating on new HUDS’ sustainability initiatives, so stay tuned for talks and panels on sustainable seafood and eating less meat. Plus, more cooking classes, talks on how “the food system” affects Harvard, and a few foraging tours!
We’re interested in supporting and connecting food efforts on campus, so get in touch if you’re doing something related to food.
To stay on top of the Food Literacy Project, check out our blog (www.foodliteracyproject.wordpress.com) and sign up for our weekly newsletter of Harvard food events by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.