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Locally sourced food feeds a massive Uday crowd

By Liz Haas

Staff Writer

The food for University Day (UDay) didn’t travel far; a grass-fed burger from North Haverhill, a diet Coke canned in Londonderry, and a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar from Taunton.

“This was the first year for grass-fed beef,” said David Hill, the assistant director of culinary operations.

Hill said the dining services try to purchase more local ingredients for UDay every year.

“A lot of times we have [local ingredients] but don’t promote it,” he said.  “We have to let people know.”

According to Director of Dining Hall Operations Jon Plodzik, about 11,000 students, faculty and community members were served 4,500 all-beef hot dogs, nearly 10,000 hamburgers, 4,000 vegan summer squash wraps, 2,000 pounds of watermelon, 15,600 Coca Cola beverages and 8,000 ice cream desserts from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. yesterday. Every item, except the watermelon, was grown, raised or made in New England.

“I think it’s a good thing,” said junior Kelsey Grist. “A university this size should be making an effort to contribute to the local economy and businesses.”

PT Farm in North Haverhill, and Kayem Foods in Chelsea, Massachusetts, provided the hamburgers and hot dogs; every bun and wrap was made at Fantini Bakery in Haverhill, Massachusetts; the produce was bought from Costa Fruit and Produce in Boston, which works with local farms and pulls additional goods from the Boston market. New England Ice Cream provided the 8,000 ice cream bars, and every Coke product was bottled in Londonderry.

“We’re a lot luckier than other schools,” senior Olivia Dean said.

She said the food has improved since her freshman year, as she bit into her last UDay burger.

“I’m glad they had the sign that said grass-fed,” she continued. “We just talked about that in class [while] looking at ethical issues in the meat industry.”

Junior Evan Rand also liked that the burgers were from grass-fed cattle, but said he wished they’d been cooked better.

Other students were just there for a free burger, regardless of where and how it was raised.

“I don’t care what’s fed to my cattle,” freshman Brett Gagnon said.

Hill doesn’t know what local produce will be offered next year, but he takes notes after each UDay to help make the following year better.

Exectituve Chef Christopher Kaschak serves wraps to UDay diners.
Exectituve Chef Christopher Kaschak serves wraps to UDay diners.
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