A Fresh Approach to Dining
(From l-r) Tracey Altomari, Tara Connors and Kayleigh Hill
“Food is how we nourish our bodies. What we eat speaks directly to the kind of future we wish to create,” words spoken by URI’s Senior Honors Student, Kayleigh Hill, President of Slow Food URI. With a passion that’s contagious, she has a clear goal for this campus; change the way our community views food and its impact on our health and environment.
As described by the movement’s website, Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet. Their approach to food is based on a concept of three interconnected principles: good, clean and fair. GOOD: quality, flavorsome and healthy food. CLEAN: production that does not harm the environment. FAIR: accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers.
In partnering with URI Dining Services, Kayleigh hopes to create a bridge between the Slow Food Movement and the University of Rhode Island. She hopes that through this relationship, “students will have more of a direct link to with what they are eating in the dining halls and a better understanding of how it is made.”
Tracey Altomari, Chef at Hope Dining, also recognizes the importance of the elements in your food. She sees students having an educated palate and takes great pride in sharing with them the ingredients used to build their menus. Knowing our students strive to eat in a healthy manner, she always keeps in mind their preferences while building creative dishes. She limits animal fat, freezes locally produced herbs and features local produce from URI’s on-campus farm operated by Tim Sherman.
Tara Connors, Dining Manager at Mainfare, hopes to begin a program where local seafood could be offered on the menu. Given that a dinner order for a single menu item can exceed 4000 requests, it becomes challenging locally to meet such large quantities. Tara hopes by featuring local seafood purveyors particular catch as a special, URI Dining can assist the SLOW Food movement.
After learning about the efforts and enthusiasm from Dining Services to support students, Hill is now curious for our input. She is conducting an online survey towards having local food at URI. She believes “food is also a means of creating community and that our students should have a say in the quality of their food.”
Having the support from Dining Services helps supplement Hill’s motivation to continue her dedicated work as the President of Slow Food. This future-focused organization offers several activities and opportunities for students to get involved. They partake in educational workshops, tour local farms & food companies, and have held a Farmer’s Market on campus.
Kayleigh now sees that gardening with her mother and visiting several farmer’s markets was one of the best things that she could have been exposed to while growing up. It allowed her to immerse herself in all things food related, leading her to not only realize how our American food culture is flawed, but also sees the need towards working for a change in our campus and our society.
Story and Photos by Sabrina Araújo
Class of 2018, Public Relations and Communications Major