The Feasibility of Supplying Locally Sourced and Organic Food for a Student-Run Food co-op on Studley Campus
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The Greening the Campus movement is an initiative that addresses issues of sustainability within university institutions. At Dalhousie University, the Environmental Problem Solving class provides students with a research opportunity in this area. This project addresses campus sustainability by suggesting that Dalhousie’s carbon footprint could be reduced by implementing a student run, local/organic food co-op on Studley campus. The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of providing local and organic food to such a student run food co-op. To do this, we employed several methods: i) purposive surveys distributed in the Student Union Building and Killam Library, to gauge student interest and food preferences; ii) a purposive in-person interview with a Sodexo food representative, to gain information on how many people are served daily in the SUB; iii) Non-probabilistic, purposive phone and email interviews with Nova Scotia farmers/food producers, to determine the availability and diversity of local food. The student survey results indicate that 80% of students are willing to pay $2 or more as a levy to support the co-op, 40% would buy food at the SUB more often if it were locally sourced, over 60% would pay slightly more for sustainably sourced food, and 42% consider eating locally on campus to be important. The Sodexo interview revealed that 1800 customers are served daily in the Student Union building. The farmer interviews indicate that there is a wide variety of local produce available in quantities that satisfy demand, and that Nova Scotia food producers contacted showed a high level of support for the project. These results are significant because they suggest that the implementation of a student-run food co-op on Studley Campus is feasible from both a student interest and a food availability perspective.