The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Resolution passed to boost local products

Claire Reising | Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Student Senate passed a resolution Wednesday supporting an increase in Food Services’ budget for locally-grown produce in the dining halls. The resolution states that the University should buy from local farms to support the farming industry in the Midwest economy and to avoid the environmental effects of transporting goods over long distances.

Morrissey senator Tom Bacsik, who drafted the resolution, said it includes foods from Wisconsin and from all states bordering Indiana. According to the resolution, Notre Dame Food Services (NDFS) will raise its local produce budget from three percent to seven percent over the next three years.

Karen Koski, Social Concerns Committee chair, said the Senate has discussed the percentage with NDFS, which believes it is a reasonable goal.

“These numbers are specific numbers that we talked to them about,” she said. “They know exactly what this resolution says, and they find the jump from three to seven percent challenging, but feasible, which is what we’re looking for.”

The resolution passed 18-3, with one abstention, but a few senators voiced concerns about how to fund the initiative. Farley senator Victoria Perez said some members of her Hall Council were not in favor of the budget raise because they feared other components of the budget would suffer.

“What are we taking money from? I know they’re already complaining about not having enough money to pay for silverware and [things] like that,” she said.

However, Bacsik said NDFS would not have to increase the funds it spends, but would just divert funds it already has.

“If they’re getting apples from California, now they’re going to spend that same money and get apples from Michigan,” he said. “It’s diverting funds from things that you’re already getting from other long-distance sources to more local sources and supporting the local economy.”

Bacsik added that locally-grown foods may be more expensive since they come from mostly small, family-run farms. However, he said Notre Dame and other universities in Indiana will invest in the future by building a lasting relationship with these farms.

“By banding those together and by getting out into the local sources, they’re trying to get a long-standing relationship so they can get a quality product at a decreasing cost,” he said.

Welsh Family senator Tara Schimpf raised another objection to the resolution, asking if NDFS will sacrifice food quality or selection.

“Does that mean that when we’re going locally, when it’s a bad season for that [product] here, [we’re] not going to have that item? Are we sacrificing quality?” she said.

Bacsik said that seasonality will affect local foods available, but NDFS will remain committed to buying fresh produce.

In addition to passing the resolution, the Senate previewed the Health and Body Image Conference, which will be held March 11-13. Brenna Doyle and Patrick Tighe, the Gender Issues Committee co-chairs, summarized the conference’s itinerary and gave background information about some of the speakers.

The conference’s keynote speaker, Ann J. Simonton, will present “Sex, Power and the Media” on March 11 from 5-6 p.m. Simonton, a former fashion model and current media activist, will discuss the consequences of corporate media.

Other speakers will give presentations on topics such as the modeling profession, pro-eating disorder Web sites, the effects of eating disorders and treatment of eating disorders. The conference will also show “Thin,” an HBO documentary about an eating disorder treatment center.

Tighe said registration for the conference is free for Notre Dame students and faculty, and Doyle said students do not need to stay for the entire conference if they choose to attend. Senators will be posting sign-up sheets in dorms during the coming weeks.

“We’re hoping anyone can see any part of presentation that fits into their schedule,” she said.

In other Senate News:

u Carol Hendrickson, Academic Affairs Committee chair, said she was pleased with the turnout at Monday’s town hall meeting discussing the hiring of Catholic faculty. The Senate also discussed more results from their dorm sessions on the issue.

Fisher Senator Stephan Bant said although students agreed on the importance of Catholic character at Notre Dame, they debated whether a Catholic-majority faculty was essential to maintaining it.

“It seemed like the general consensus I got was that people thought that if it was pertinent to keeping the Catholic character at Notre Dame, they supported having a majority Catholic faculty, but they just didn’t seem to think that having Catholic professors really affected what happened in the classroom,” he said.

u Karen Koski, Social Concerns Committee chair, will meet with Food Services next week to discuss the possibility of students using Domer Dollars to donate to service clubs. She said when clubs are collecting for charities or service projects, students do not always have money with them. However, this initiative would allow students to swipe their ID cards to donate money.

u Multicultural Affairs Committee Chair Ninny Wan discussed the possibility of a cultural competency requirement in the undergraduate curriculum. She said there are three proposals for integrating culture into students’ experience: a requirement to take one class that is related to culture, a requirement to take a class or participate in an activity related to culture, or a Web site that lists cultural opportunities at Notre Dame.

u Callie Pogge, University Affairs Committee Chair, said a student-faculty debate on John McCain’s and Barack Obama’s health care plans will take place next Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Dooley Room of LaFortune. The event will feature Economics Professor Bill Evans and Dr. Rudolph Navari, director of the Indiana University School of Medicine in South Bend.