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UW-Eau Claire's Blugold Dining buys local foods through agreement with Crescent Meats

October 31, 2012
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UW-Eau Claire students enjoy a meal together in Riverview Cafe on upper campus. Serving meat products that have been raised and processed locally is among Blugold Dining's ongoing efforts to support UW-Eau Claire's many sustainability initiatives.

EAU CLAIRE — An innovative partnership with a western Wisconsin business is the newest way that the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is contributing to the local economy while also supporting the university's commitment to sustainability.


Blugold Dining now is consistently serving meat products that have been raised and processed locally thanks to an agreement with Cadott-based Crescent Meats, a family owned and operated full-service meat processing plant located fewer than 30 miles from Eau Claire, said Christian Wise, general manager of Blugold Dining.

As a result, now nearly 20 percent of the $4.3 million Blugold Dining spends in a year on food is going to purchase local food products, Wise said. To be considered local, products must be produced and distributed within 150 miles of Eau Claire, he said.

"We're obligated by contract to buy 10 percent of our products locally, and the national average for colleges is 8-12 percent," Wise said. "Our goal has been to do far more than what's required and to be well above the national average but to do it a way that won't cost our students more. Our students made it clear they want the university to reduce its carbon footprint so we're doing our part. I don't know of another public school that is doing what we are doing here."

The partnership with Crescent Meats was inspired by one of the new food concepts in the university's newly constructed Davies Center, Wise said. Since the new student center opened this fall, the Blu Flame Grill has served grill favorites with an emphasis on local meats, he said. All hamburgers served there are prepared using local products from Crescent Meats, he said.

Due to the popularity of the local meats, Blugold Dining now has contracted with Crescent Meats to also provide all hamburgers served at Riverview Café, the university's cafeteria that serves about 7,500 meals a day, Wise said, noting that Crescent Meats products also will be incorporated into other dining venues on campus. Much of the chicken used by Blugold Dining also will come from Crescent Meats, he said.

"For several years, UW-Eau Claire students, faculty and staff have been requesting locally sourced food selections," Wise said. "Through this relationship with a local business, we will help meet those requests in an even more substantial way. Multiple food venues on campus now can regularly offer closely-sourced meats. It is amazing to know that the items offered in our dining centers are raised, processed, prepared and consumed right here in Wisconsin."

Wise said Blugold Dining was impressed by Crescent Meats' commitment to providing meat from animals that are raised in humane conditions and fed high-quality feeds.

"Even though Wisconsin has one of the highest rated state meat inspection services in the nation, Crescent Meats' standards are higher — their meat is 100 percent free of any hormones, growth-promoting implants, additives or chemicals," Wise said.

The partnership with Crescent Meats is the latest in Blugold Dining's ongoing efforts to support UW-Eau Claire's many sustainability initiatives, Wise said.

Other examples of Blugold Dining sustainability initiatives include:

  • Ninety percent of dairy offered through Blugold Dining comes from local vendors. That includes sour cream, many cheeses and the nearly 600 gallons per week of milk consumed by the campus community.
  • Bottled water sold on campus comes from Chippewa Springs, a local bottled water distributor.
  • Blugold Dining went trayless three years ago, a move that has reduced food waste by more than 50 percent. It also has saved on natural resources needed to wash the more than 6,000 trays a day that had been used.
  • Blugold Dining began a composting program in 2009, contracting with a company to pick up composting materials and repurpose it. Nearly all wrappings, plates and utensils provided are compostable. Food trimmings also are collected for composting. Nearly 1,500 pounds of compostable trash is collected weekly.
  • The student-run Campus Kitchen repurposes food that can be used elsewhere in the community. Nearly 125-150 meals are donated each week.
  • Blugold Dining revamped its basic cooking practices, moving to batch cooking techniques that lower food waste rather than cooking large quantities and letting the food sit in a warmer.
  • Intermezzos Café and the Green Bean serve Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified coffees, which ensure that farmers and growers are paid fairly for their products. The Green Bean also features certified organic products.

Sodexo has provided Blugold Dining service on the UW-Eau Claire campus since 2002. The Blugold Dining program is administered by the University Centers.

For more information, contact Christian Wise at 715-836-2716 or wisec@uwec.edu.

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