Jay Barnes, President, Bethel College
Bethel University’s food service provider Sodexo held a fair on campus this week to showcase five local food vendors. The two day fair is part of Bethel’s effort to shift procurement spending to local businesses.
The Central Corridor Anchor Partnership (CCAP) has committed to increasing anchor partner spending in Central Corridor zip codes by 5% over five years, and food spending is one of the “big bets” where a recent study identified up to $328 million of ‘addressable’ spending that could feasibly shift to local vendors.
“We appreciate Sodexo’s efforts to start this process,” commented Bethel’s president, Jay Barnes. “I believe that our students and faculty are very excited about more local options.”
One other CCAP partner, Minneapolis Community & Technical College, recently concluded its relationship with Sodexo and instead commenced dining and catering services this Fall with Groceries & Deli on Harmon, a local business established by a former MCTC and Metro State University student, Jag Arora.
The Bethel local food fair included three local coffee vendors – True Stone Coffee Roasters, CityKid Java, and Caribou, along with local grocer D’Lish and suppliers InHarvest and Sweet Harvest Foods. D’Lish is owned by Ann and Yulin Yin, and works with over 200 local and organic farmers to provide a “retail farmers market.” InHarvest started as a wild rice provider from Bemidji and is now a supplier of whole grains, rice and legumes to K-12, colleges and universities, and military food service. Sweet Harvest Foods is a family owned and operated company in the Cannon River Valley providing Melo-O honey and premium peanut butter.
For Sodexo’s part, this local food vendor fair is a positive development. “The participating businesses are very enthusiastic,” said Christopher Christenson, Communications & Marketing, Sodexo at Bethel University. “I think it has been a mutually beneficial experience for Sodexo and the whole Bethel community.”
Bethel is planning a Spring event to encourage students to visit local Central Corridor restaurants.