Slow Food Ithaca College, a group that promotes sustainable food, is circulating a petition calling on Sodexo, which runs the college’s dining halls, to adopt more local food to its selections.
The Resource Environmental Management Program and Ithaca College Environmental Society is working with Slow Food to get between 500 and 1,000 signatures to bring to Sodexo.
During a teach-in and documentary screening to celebrate National Food Day on Monday, the petition was passed around and student signatures were collected.
Dozens of participants at the meeting were treated to a selection of organic foods made by the students, including Kale, gluten-free brownies, chocolate chip cookies and hummus.
Sophomore Julia Hall, the student executive board member in charge of public relations for Slow Food said complaints from students, who are customers of Sodexo, are capable of bringing about change.
“Sodexo is a corporation,” she said. “Students don’t realize this, but we are their customers.”
Hall said the petition has received a favorable response from student petitioners.
ICES co-president Margaret Keating said the petition asks for more local food in dining halls along with more choices for those with restricted diets.
“We are demanding that Sodexo sources its food in the dining halls from within 250 miles of Ithaca,” she said. “There is so much agricultural activity in New York state, and only 10 percent of our food in the dining halls comes from within the state. We are also trying to push for more options for people with dietary restrictions like people who eat vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and kosher, so that there is more variety for them.”
Ithaca Dining Services General Manager Jeff Scott said only 11 percent of dining hall food is local, but they are working to increase the percentage.
“Purchasing and sourcing more locally is one of our objectives,” he said. “Our next goal is to take the 11 percent up to 15 percent.”
Scott said dining services has expanded its menu options to cater to students with special diets.
“We have tried to increase the amount of vegan and vegetarian choices,” he said.
Scott said in addition to vegetarian and vegan options, they have strived to enhance gluten-free options as well. He said dining services added a gluten-free pantry to the Campus Center dining hall and this year they added the option for students to pre-order lunch entrees at the Terrace and Tower dining halls.
Emily Shaw, co-president of Slow Food and ICES, said the groups managed to gather 200 signatures within two days.
Following a treat of healthy snacks, attendees at the meeting sat down to watch “Food Matters,” a documentary directed and produced by James Colquhoun and Laurentine ten Bosch, explores how diets have significant effects on health.
Freshman Nadege Hoeper said it was the sight of a crowd and an interest in eating healthy that drew her to the event.
“I am pretty interested in all this stuff, like eating naturally,” she said. “I don’t like all the antibiotics and whatnot they put in the meat.”