The desserts in the cafeteria at Luther College resemble what students find on lots of campuses. But Luther is committed to locally sourcing much of what it offers. (Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)
At Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, one of the trips offered to incoming first-year students focuses on the local food system in the region. On-campus gardens, located on farm acres the college owns but no longer operates commercially, provide fresh produce to the cafeteria throughout the growing season.
Many students at this small liberal arts school say they pay more attention to where their food comes from than their peers at other colleges.
Luther is a major food buyer in the area and emerged as an early and critical partner in the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative. It’s a host site for AmeriCorps and FoodCorps service members, offers cooking classes for employees and works alongside the public schools to help them make more local offerings possible.
Early spring is a low point in the local food calendar in Iowa. But even so, a recent tour of the cafeteria during the dinner hour highlighted many of the locally-sourced ingredients.
Of course, college students can still find familiar staples, such as macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets and gooey desserts.