On Tuesday, October 28th, the Harvest Dinner brought over 1200 lbs of local beef, 600 lbs of local squash, and almost 500 lbs of local smelt to the North and South dining halls. The menu featured many seasonal favorites from “burgoo” to pumpkin squares and highlighted the local bounty sourced within 250 miles of our campus, supporting 14 local farms. With full dining halls and a great atmosphere, a great time was had by both the food staff and students.
On Tuesday, October 28th, students and visitors can look forward to a Harvest Festival in the North and South Dining Halls. The Harvest Festival will highlight the local bounty of seasonal foods and help raise awareness of the Dining Services’ impact on the larger community.
Marc Poklinkowski, General Manager of South Dining Hall, commented that Dining Services “always focuses on local purchasing and seasonality.” The apples, squashes and mushrooms all come from the region. He continued, "we take advantage and increase the amount of seasonal vegetables whenever possible.”
At the Harvest Festival, students will find that nearly all the food comes from within 250 miles of Notre Dame. The focus on local produce means that students will find smelt, a Great Lakes fish, instead of salmon. Apples and squashes also will be prominent ingredients. Students can learn how many miles away their food was grown with information on the line-cards.
In addition to serving local foods, the chefs will feature regional recipes. An Indiana “burgoo” will make its dining hall debut on Tuesday. Mr. Poklinkowski explained that burgoo resembles an Irish stew; it is usually found at a social event or fundraiser, as everyone contributes an ingredient for the burgoo.
Dining Services wanted to emphasize the seasonality of the regional foods while also making students aware of Notre Dame’s spending impact on the local communities from which it sources its foods. For example, Notre Dame serves over two tons of sliced apples a week. Sourcing that much food has a great impact on the farming communities that Notre Dame works with, such as Sydney, OH (182 miles away) and Lansing, MI (154 miles away).
The notion of regional producers extends to the decorations as well. Pumpkins from Shelton’s Farms in Niles, MI will ornament the dining halls. However, due to the cold winter not as many pumpkins survived, so other autumnal decorations will compensate for fewer pumpkins, Mr. Poklinkowski explained.
Since the early 2000s, Dining Services has actively sourced its food from nearby producers whenever possible. Dining Services realizes its large impact and always seeks ways it can be socially conscious, support local communities and minimize its footprint. In serving 2.1 million meals a year, Mr. Poklinkowski finds that a great challenge in working with local producers is finding enough local and seasonal foods to accommodate such large quantities.
The Harvest Festival menu includes apple cider, green apple bisque, caramelized squash, vegan gnocchi with kale, wild mushroom ravioli, sirloin, and smelt. The Pan-Am station will feature a sweet potato bar, complete with pecans and mini-marshmallows. Deserts to look forward to include apple dumplings and pumpkin squares.