For Teachers College employees who are trying to eat healthily over the holidays, the good news from CulinArt, the outside vendor responsible for all food and beverage services at the College, is that they’ll have plenty opportunities to keep that going when they return after New Year’s.
Marty Weil, Director of Dining Services for CulinArt, has long wanted to provide the Teachers College community with locally sourced foods. Weil believes that buying locally sourced meat and produce is good for the local economy, supports smaller businesses and typically provides patrons with the healthiest and tastiest options.
“But the problem with sourcing locally has been trying to get vendors to deliver it,” Weil says. “Bigger vendors focus on well-priced products, not local products.”
In early September, though, CulinArt TC found a solution to that problem, entering into a partnership with The Common Market, a nonprofit, mission-driven food distributor of local, sustainable foods that runs its own supply chain.
TC launched the field of nutrition education, we’re home to the oldest nutrition program in the United States and our faculty have been pioneers in the eat local movement. This partnership is another example of how we’re modeling change that needs to happen.”
Since then, The Common Market has delivered in-season, locally sourced food to CulinArt at TC at the beginning of the second week of each month. In October the list included honey, apple butter and local drinks – but eating local at TC has also meant more than just being able to buy individual whole foods. During the first week of partnership with The Common Market, for example, CulinArt served catfish prepared in cornmeal that came from a mill in Pennsylvania.
“We are learning from the people we buy from,” says Michael D’Abundo, Executive Chef.
Indeed when it comes to food provided by The Common Market, a story typically goes with it. The vendor provides CulinArt with a data sheet to place in front of the products on their tables. “Usually there is a picture of the family that owns the farm and tells you about the history and the products you’re receiving from there,” D’Abundo says.
The Common Market partnership strikes knowledgeable observers as being just the ticket for TC.
“Teachers College is The Common Market’s first university account in New York, which is fitting,” says Claire Raffel, the Deputy Director of TC's Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy in the Program in Nutrition. “TC launched the field of nutrition education, we’re home to the oldest nutrition program in the United States and our faculty have been pioneers in the eat local movement. This partnership is another example of how we’re modeling change that needs to happen.”
We are learning from the people we buy from.”
In short, Marty Weil’s determination to provide locally sourced food has turned into deliveries. Everyone’s excited – but especially the end customer.
“They love it,” D’Abundo says, adding that one woman told him she no longer has to stop at a market on the way home.
“She was carrying an armful of rainbow chard,” he says, smiling.