Local, Organic and on campus: Healthy choices for food abound

By Nate Kahn

Eating on campus can sometimes be a challenge depending on one’s dietary restrictions and eating preferences. However, Whatcom has three different on campus eateries available to students and faculty.
From Dockside Café in Syre Student Center and Orca Bay Café in the Pavilion, to the Kulshan Coffee Cart in Kulshan Hall various food and beverages are sold around the campus. Though plentiful, many of the eating options are sourced from global corporations, such as Pepsi.In order to break the standardized mold of typical college cafeterias, on-campus food service manager Judy Vaz has worked with Washington state purveyors and regional vendors to provide locally grown and organically produced snacks and drinks.
Vaz has been working with major food providers such as Sysco “to source a lot of local produce as much as possible.”
“We try not to get stuff from Florida if we can get it from Oregon or California, but that’s not always possible depending on the growing season and who gets hit with a hurricane,” Vaz said.
Vaz says she tries to keep on campus establishments stocked with products produced from the Bellingham area.
“When in season, we deal with a local apple grower here, Bellewood Acres, we get apple chips, cider and apples,” Vaz said.
Bellewood Acres isn’t the only local vendor whose products can be found on Whatcom’s campus.
Avenue Bread, a bakery and café in downtown Bellingham provides Whatcom with their Yeti Bars, which are gluten free and chock-full of nutritious nuts and seeds.
Local fermentation specialists Kombucha Town, have an array of all-natural fizzy drinks in the beverage coolers.
“We also deal with a couple of local coffee brewers,” Vaz said.
Fidalgo Bay from Burlington, Wash., is one of the coffee roasters that helps keep the Whatcom community caffeinated. Their new drink, Nitro Coffee, a powerful lightly carbonated cold brew, comes in flavors such as Honey Medium Roast, Vanilla Dark Roast, and Unsweetened Light Roast.
Moka Joe, a roaster from Anacortes, Wash., has a very dark cold-brew. Both coffee companies use organically grown fair trade beans.
As for the more substantial meals served at the Dockside Café deli, Vaz has taken steps to create healthy options for the community.
“We come up with options like the garden burger,” Vaz said.
Vaz works with Sodexo to provide wholesome ingredients for their sandwiches and other entrees.
“We are sourcing a lot of things like sliced turkey that is low sodium, our eggs are free range,” Vaz said.
In addition to the variety of healthy and locally sourced options provided on-campus, Sodexo offers a nutritional wellness resource called Mindful. Vaz explains that corporate Sodexo employees wanted a way to learn how to eat healthier.
Mindful uses “products that are lower in sodium, sugar and processed ingredients,” Vaz said.
The program provides special dishes on-campus that have great dietary value.
The Mindful website has detailed nutritional facts about all the foods found on campus. Also on this site is a dedicated nutritionist that students and faculty can contact regarding their dietary inquiries.

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