Comer; EKU President Doug Whitlock; state Rep. Rita Smart, D-Richmond; Jacob Garrison, a member of the EKU student Green Crew sustainability group; and officials with Kentucky Proud and EKU cut a maroon ribbon to open a kiosk featuring Kentucky Proud products in the university bookstore.
“This is a very special day for Kentucky agriculture and the Kentucky Proud program,” Comer told the gathering, adding that campus shoppers throughout the commonwealth should be on the lookout for many more such displays. “We’re going to work with all the colleges and universities in Kentucky to get more Kentucky Proud products on the shelf in the bookstores in special Kentucky Proud sections like you have here … [and] also to get more Kentucky Proud products in the cafeteria….
After the ribbon cutting, EKU’s food service partner, Aramark, treated attendees to a cake made with Kentucky Proud mix from Hopkinsville. Comer toured a student convenience store, where Kentucky Proud products are prominently displayed on the end cap of a shelf, and the Fresh Food Company restaurant on the top floor of the student center.
In addition to using more shelf-stable Kentucky Proud products, EKU executive chef Todd Pagan said he is working to source more raw commodities, such as meats and produce, from Kentucky Proud producers. EKU’s dairy products already are Kentucky Proud, sourced from Borden Dairy in London, Ky.
Pagan noted that one of the restaurant’s lunch dishes on April 15 was creamed ham over cheese grits made using two Kentucky Proud ingredients – grits from Weisenberger Mill in Midway and cream from Borden Dairy.
Under the Farm to Campus program, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture will partner with EKU and other Kentucky colleges and universities to help with their buy-local efforts. Over the next two years, the department will target college campuses to put more shelf-stable Kentucky Proud products in their bookstores and gift shops, and more farm-fresh Kentucky Proud products in their cafeterias and food service systems.
“Not only are you buying food that’s fresher and healthier, and keeping your money in your local economy, but you’re reducing your carbon footprint,” Comer said. “That’s a big part of sustainability.”
The KDA will also work with the universities and student sustainability groups, such as the Green Crew, on Kentucky Proud/buy local efforts in Richmond and other college towns.
“This is really kind of a milestone for our university,” Garrison said. “To teach students how to be more sustainable in life – where better than on a campus to do that? By adopting sustainable choices – whether it be through food purchases, recycling, whatever – I think we’re certainly making an impact.”