The University of Kentucky has increased the amount of local food it buys, even as it stopped including soft drinks and ice as “local” products.
According to the UK Food Connection yearly report, UK’s food provider, Aramark, bought $1.6 million from Kentucky farmers and food producers, compared to about $1.5 million the year before. Those make up about 18 percent of Aramark’s total purchases.
The Food Connection study breaks down purchases by whether they are mostly produced from Kentucky farmers or have some impact on local farms or businesses. Last year, Aramark bought $701,000 in meat products. About $95,000 came directly or mostly from Kentucky farms, $164,000 had some portion from Kentucky farms, and $442,000 had no local impact.
The study’s authors also reclassified about $1.2 million in products that they determined weren’t Kentucky-sourced. The study includes John Conti Coffee, a Kentucky company, although coffee is not grown here.
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“We’ve learned so much already about the nature of our food economy,” study co-author Lilian Brislen said. “We’re seeing connections that didn’t exist before getting put into place, and we’re working to get more wholesale growers in place.”
UK has revised its contract with Aramark to include yearly benchmarks, including a requirement that by 2023-24, Aramark will make 20 percent of its purchases from Kentucky farms and businesses.