Harvard Celebrates Food Day

Special offerings such as Maine lobster bisque, five-cheese tortellini with spinach and mushrooms, and New England apple crisp had students going back for seconds and thirds during Wednesday night’s Food Day dinner.

To acknowledge the annual national celebration of healthy and sustainable food, Harvard University Dining Services planned different sustainable and local food options at dining halls and restaurants across campus.

In the undergraduate dining halls, HUDS served a full menu made of local or sustainable foods. Dishes included cider glazed chicken, fresh brussel sprouts, and local cheese from Cabot, Vt. The scallion whipped Yukon potatoes came from Young’s Farm in Rhode Island.

In HUDS’s retail locations, there were sandwiches and soups made of locally sourced ingredients. For example, some retail locations offered a squash soup served with a baguette, local apples, and Vermont cheddar.

Special labels, decorated with an autumn leaves design, detailed the origin and the ingredients of the dishes, allowing students to take note of where their food was from.

The main focus of the night was sustainability.

“It’s a really important idea to communicate to Harvard students,” Resource Efficiency Program Freshman Representative Paige V. Kouba ’16 said. “A lot of people aren’t aware of how much energy goes into making their food.”

“We’re being environmentally friendly in very simple ways, such as cleaning your plate,” John M. A. McCallum ’16, also a REP representative, added.

Although some students received emails explaining what sustainable food was, others only realized it was a special dinner upon entering the servery.

“It’s amazing,” Bobby T. Fitzpatrick ’16 said. “I had no idea it was going on, but it was the best surprise.”

Students said they enjoyed the variety and the presentation of the food.

“The food looked more aesthetically pleasing,” Derek C. Jansma ’13 said.

“As a Vermonter, I appreciate the effort to integrate local food,” Tanya V. Avilova ’13 said. “I enjoyed the variety. You really can tell the difference.”

Students said they appreciated the focus on health.

“I think there is way too much junk food in the dining halls,” Vincent Li ’15 said. “It was refreshing.”

Some students felt that the concept of using locally sourced ingredients and being sustainable shouldn’t be reserved to just one dinner.

“Every day is food day. I think it’s preposterous to be isolating out specific days,” Daniel W. Erickson ’14 said. “If [HUDS] is going to be supporting local ingredients, they should make a big commitment to it.”

The Food Literacy Project and Eco REPS worked with Harvard University Dining Services to plan the sustainable meal.

—Staff writer Laya Anasu can be reached at