Nothing brings students out of the wood work quite like free food, and Bethel’s Taste Minnesota event did just that! On October 1-2, Bethel University held a local food showcase by bringing five local vendors on campus. Bethel’s Sodexo representative organized the event in connection with the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership (CCAP).Event Advertisement
CCAP provided lists of eligible vendors, and Bethel embraced the event as an opportunity to advance the Partnership’s goal of increasing spending with local vendors by 5% over five years. The Partnership has committed to this goal because its partners believe that such an effort can create wealth in communities adjacent to the Central Corridor by focusing and aggregating the demand from the anchor institutions to local suppliers that employ and invest in the community. Together, the anchor partners spend $3 billion annually in goods and services. Anchor partner spending on food is one of the “big bet” categories of spending that an expert study identified as “addressable,” meaning that spending can reasonably be shifted to local vendors. See MCTC Shifts from National to Local Food Vendor, While ICIC Identifies Additional $328M Anchors Could Shift
Taste Minnesota, Bethel, PB Crave‘Institutionalizing’ Local Spending with Bethel Flex
While free samples provided an introduction to the local vendors, Bethel and Sodexo further primed the pump by allowing students to use their Bethel Flex dining cards for purchases. Local vendors included PB Crave, CityKid Java, InHarvest, Caribou Coffee and True Stone Coffee Roasters. Popular items with the students included artisan peanut butter from PB Crave, veggie “Aztec” burgers, Mediterranean blend whole grain salad, and cold brew coffee.
Sodexo’s Bob Schuchardt used the event as an opportunity to learn more about student food preferences with an eye toward incorporating them into Bethel’s retail offerings. His focus is to look for items that make sense for a student’s lifestyle and fit with Bethel Sodexo’s operations. Schuchardt also plans to incorporate specialty items from these local vendors into Bethel’s Holiday Gift Baskets this year.Taste Minnesota, Bethel, True Stone
Future of Local Spending
The Local Food Showcase was deemed a success by Bethel. With the success of this Fall’s showcase there are plans for a spring showcase and student engagement off campus in a field trip of sorts to local vendors. Stay tuned!