Enhancing the Local Food Economy, Serving the UK Community

Photo of turkey burger
Located in Salvisa, Farmer Joe’s Turkey Farm is less than 30 miles from campus and home to an impressive rafter of turkeys. UK Dining is able to source fresh local turkey for sandwiches for locations like K-Lair.

When we began our UK Dining program partnership with Aramark in 2014, we emphasized the importance of increasing levels of local food sourcing and support for the state’s businesses and farm economy. Earlier this month, we released the UK Dining Sourcing Report for Fiscal Year 2018. This report provides the fourth annual assessment of our local food procurement, illustrating our efforts towards enhancing the local food economy and to serving our UK community.

The Food Connection, an institute housed in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, was established and funded as part of our UK Dining partnership, helps to support innovative and interdisciplinary instruction, high-impact service, and outreach with cutting-edge research on foods and food systems both on- and off-campus. 

Additionally, our Food Connection and UK Dining partnership programs serve farmers, food producers, students, and consumers through creative strategies for a vibrant, healthy, sustainable food economy. And, we are increasing quality, in large measure, through our purchase of local food.

The sourcing report shows that local purchases exceeded both the Kentucky Farm Impact benchmark and the overall Kentucky Farm and Food Business Impact (KYFFBI) benchmark set for the period from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018.

These commitments remain crucial, both to UK and to our partner. The proof is in the numbers:

  • UK’s local food procurement program emphasizes two kinds of economic impact:  farm impact and business impact. Farm impact purchases have at least some ingredients that can be traced back directly to a Kentucky farm. Business impact purchases do not have any Kentucky grown or raised ingredients but are produced by businesses owned by Kentucky entrepreneurs or manufactured in facilities located within Kentucky.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) called for UK Dining to spend at least $672,000 in Kentucky Farm Impact purchases during the 12-month period. The actual expenditures came in at $1,045,600, exceeding the KPI target by $373,000.
  • Food Business Impact purchases totaled $707,000 for the fiscal year. When added to the local farm impact purchases, UK Dining’s combined KYFFBI impact totaled about $1,752,000, again exceeding the target of just over $1,730,000.

Of course, we are very pleased with the progress we are making as a result of this partnership to support Kentucky’s local food economy and farm families. The UK community recognizes the social, environmental, and economic values the Commonwealth receives by supporting home-grown products from Kentucky farms and Kentucky entrepreneurs.

We were excited, this past spring, to open the newest residential dining facility on campus, Champions Kitchen, located in the Gatton Student Center. This outstanding space created even more opportunities for local food purchasing and for building community.

We have made progress each year in our commitment to Kentucky’s local food economy. This progress is yet another example of our role as the Commonwealth’s indispensable institution—as the University for Kentucky. 

Have a great week. 


Eric N. Monday