Western Michigan University Dining Services are hosting the fourth-annual Farmers’ Market Luncheon on Wednesday, Sept. 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in all dining halls on WMU’s campus.
The food is being brought in from local producers such as Bear-Foot Farm in Paw Paw, Shelton’s Farm Market in Niles and J&S farms in Scotts, said Paul Choker, Chef and Assistant Director of Dining Services.
“The Farmers’ Market Luncheon is really to promote the fact that we do support local farmers and local businesses,” Choker said.
The menu items include barbecue chicken, polish kielbasa, autumn-roasted vegetables, apple brown betty and cheddar cheese stout soup, made with Kalamazoo Stout from Bell’s Brewery.
“The stout soup is popular because it is not offered any other time throughout the year,” Choker said.
“The natural kielbasa is made with pork from Bear-Foot Farm, processed at Countryside Meats in Union City and is without casing,” Choker said.
Export Ope’s of Kalamazoo is providing black bean patties and cookies.
“I collaborate with the farmers to find out what’s available,” said Choker. “With the weather this year, it’s been a challenge for all the farmers.”
The event was originally created because students were asking for more local foods. The event gained so much popularity that Dining Services decided to keep it, Choker said.
“It brings awareness to where students can buy fresh produce,” Choker said.
While the event is meant to promote local foods, Dining Services are always getting food from local producers, Choker said.
“We have a number of distributors that we order the food from,” Choker said.
Dining Services get pork through a food-diversion initiative where they give their fruit and vegetable trimmings to Bear-Foot Farms to feed the hogs. In return, Bear-Foot Farms provides pork, Choker said.
Food at Dining Services is locally sourced in the Great Lakes region, Choker said. Produce comes from Shelton Farms. Food is also obtained through Gordon’s Food Service in Grand Rapids, Sysco in Grand Rapids, Stanz Food Service in South Bend, Indiana, Superior in Grand Rapids, and Michigan Egg in Kalamazoo.