Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College to host annual Eat Local Challenge Sept. 26

Courtesy: Beacon Archives

On September 26, 2023, the culinary team at Emerson College, in collaboration with Bon Appétit Management Company, will be embarking on a culinary journey that celebrates local food like never before. Aptly named the “Eat Local Challenge,” this event is not just about creating delicious dishes but also about highlighting the importance of sustainable practices and community engagement.

This initiative was first launched in 2005 since then, it’s become an annual tradition that celebrates and utilizes only local farms, ranches, and food businesses. Tuesday’s event is set to start at 11:30 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. Dawn Sajdyk, district manager for Bon Appétit with six years of experience at Emerson College, explains, “It’s really a way for us to bring attention to sustainable practices, local food systems, and highlighting local artisans and farmers.”

The challenge has evolved over the years, as Sajdyk adds, “It’s morphed into more than just simply buying local food. It’s rethinking the way the program can have a broader impact, touching on sustainable farming practices, social justice, and community support.”

Sajdyk assures, however, that sustainability is a priority year round. According to Sajdyk, Bon Appétit aims to source at least 20 percent of total purchases locally for the year, with a desire to surpass that target annually. In the previous year, they achieved nearly 25 percent local sourcing, and they aim to exceed that percentage this year. As Sajdyk puts it, “I just think it’s a better quality product.”

With a diverse staff and student body, maintaining this commitment to local sourcing while catering a myriad of dishes is important. Dawn said, “there’s a lot of diversity in the Boston area in general.” They try to collaborate with businesses such as CommonWealth Kitchen, a BIPOC-owned small business, to help bring diversity to their offerings. Dawn added, “We’re constantly looking for new local vendors. It really helps us with the diversity that we’re looking to provide to the entire student body.”

The preparation for this challenge began early in August, involving meticulous planning by the entire staff to obtain every locally sourced ingredient to bring this special meal to life. This year’s theme, “Get Rooted in Local,” highlights the use of root vegetables in creative ways. Thomas Moseley, senior marketing specialist at Bon Appétit, says, “We’re doing a lot of the fall comfort. A lot of those root vegetables, apple cider, some risotto, some chicken, a little brisket. A lot of great things to expect.”

The focus is on plant-based options and flavors that embrace the season’s offerings. “It’s one day that kind of highlights it and brings a little bit of awareness to it,” adds Sajdyk.

In the hopes of educating as well as catering to Emerson students, Moseley reminds guests that “mindful eating is always a really important aspect of enjoying food.” Moseley hopes “students will take their time and realize that a lot of this food is sourced, and a lot of work goes into getting all this stuff [and] it’s important to pay attention to that.”

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About the Contributor
Shannon Garrido, Editor-in-chief
Shannon Andera Garrido Berges (she/her) currently serves as editor-in-chief, formerly she managed global content and covers news centered around the Caribbean. Her interests include Dominican politics, pop culture, and environmental reporting. She is an undergrad at Emerson College, majoring in Journalism.

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