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A Talk with Dave
& Cindy Ondria

Our food service director Dave Ondria has been given an unprecedented level of freedom to re-imagine a creative local foods purchasing program that still operates within the Chartwells corporate budget. Since most colleges and universities also rely on food service companies, Green Mountain College’s model is demonstrating the feasibility of sustainable foods purchasing that can be reproduced and improved upon anywhere in the country. In this interview, Chef Dave and assistant director of dining services Cindy Ondria describe their work with students to bring more local and sustainable food to the College.

Please describe your role with the GMC Farm & Food Project. How has this transformed over the past few years?

  • We have worked closely with the students and staff over the past few years on various events relating to the GMC Farm & Food Project. We have sponsored workshops and participated in classroom projects. We try to incorporate the farm items into our everyday food whenever possible. We gladly accept whatever foods the farm can produce and love when we can serve it in the dining hall. As the years go by it seems as though we are only scratching the surface. We are continuously learning more on the impact of local foods and how we can integrate them into programming and the school’s mission.

How often is local food utilized in the dining hall?
  • We are currently at a 12% local usage of all foods purchased.

What local foods are utilized?
  • At this point in time dairy products, turkey, potatoes, bread, apples, eggs, and maple syrup.

What are a few of the most memorable local food events that have taken place in the dining hall?
  • The most memorable was the lamb dinner in 2004 where we had the GMC lambs slaughtered locally and served them in the dining hall. The Five Farms in Five Days event was also a hit. Any event where there is student involvement and we have the opportunity to work side by side with the students is memorable.

What do you see as opportunities and challenges associated with the use of local foods in the dining hall?
  • Challenges include the availability of product, quality of product, quantity of product, transportation of product and educating staff toward the production of the product. Opportunities include student involvement, environmental benefits and local economic development. The dining hall can be used as a common ground classroom for sampling foods of different cultures and food needs.

What is your vision for the future of local food served in the dining hall?
  • Our vision is to be able to utilize more production from the Cerridwen Farm. We would love to see more student interaction, more development of foods that are obtainable during the college semesters. Also addressing what foods make sense during the non-growing season.

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