University of Wisconsin-Stout

July 29, 2009

More than one-third of the food purchased by dining services at the University of Wisconsin-Stout comes from within the state.

A recent analysis of food purchasing by University Dining Service determined that 37 percent of its $1.58 million annual food budget is spent on items from Wisconsin food-production companies. In addition, many more food items come from neighboring Minnesota and from cities within 200 miles of the campus.

“Buying products from Wisconsin companies not only reduces the distance the food travels, it also supports statewide businesses and encourages business growth in Wisconsin,” said Ann Thies, director of University Dining Service.

UW-Stout uses local producers and processors for its food purchases including McCain Foods, Swiss Miss and Silver Springs Garden. Annual purchases from Wisconsin companies include $211,628 for meat; $97,518 for dairy products; and $143,856 for general groceries.

“These local items help keep food miles to a minimum,” Thies said.

“Food miles” refer to the distance a food item travels from the farm to consumers’ homes. It is one dimension used in assessing the environmental impact of food. For instance, if food has to be transported long distances, the potential impact on the environment is greater: more fossil fuel is used which results in more carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and other pollutants being distributed into the air which may contribute to global climate change, acid rain, smog, and air and sea pollution.

“Beyond purchasing, we continue to change and move toward more sustainable operations while maintaining our customer and fiscal responsibilities,” Thies said.