Sodexo to set up pop-up produce stands in Montview Student union
Although winter does not officially end until March 20, Sodexo is bringing back the sights, smells and tastes of warmer weather with its pop-up produce stands throughout the semester.
While the Feb. 20 stand was canceled due to snow, there are still two more coming up this semester. On March 20 and April 10 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the first floor of the Montview Student Union, Sodexo will be selling locally-produced sweet potatoes, apples and nonperishable goods, as well as fresh berries, pears, plums, avocados, peppers, carrots and other produce.
Students can purchase these products using dining dollars and Flames Cash, as well as with cash or card.
This produce is provided by Cavalier Produce, a wholesale company located in Louisa, Virginia, which receives its produce from farmers throughout Virginia.
The stands are part of Sodexo’s initiative to provide both healthy and unique options and showcase local produce students can purchase using their meal plans.
In speaking of his goals with the produce stands, Duke Davis, aka “Mr. Rot,” said, “I just want to be able to provide something different that students don’t (normally) see.”
This goal has been met and exceeded by the vast amount of produce that has been available for purchase.
Students recognize the uniqueness and the benefit of these stands.
“It is just stuff that you normally would not get,” Jericho Beck, a sophomore who has enjoyed the stands, said.
Other than the produce for sale, one of the main attractions to the stand has been Homestead Creamery. Because of their free samples of ice cream and milk, and even a cow they brought at the beginning of the school year in 2018, Homestead Creamery draws a lot of attention to the stands.
Davis is excited about the work Homestead Creamery is doing, hoping to create a partnership with the company in the future to have them on campus full time. For now, he just enjoys the opportunity to feature them during the produce stands.
The pop-up produce stands, which began in August 2017, started from a conversation Davis had with Cavalier Produce.
“Our produce company could really showcase some of the local produce that they have from people in the area and share that story with the students,” Davis said.
From there, Rachel Sanders, the district dietitian with Sodexo, took over and has been leading the initiative ever since.
There have now been four or five different stands each semester, and all have been successful.
“No other time can (students) purchase a whole squash or a whole container of berries to enjoy in their dorm, so that experience is exciting,” Sanders said.
Sanders hopes that, though other dining locations provide a variety of tasty options for students, the produce stands give students access to nutritious foods on campus, allowing them to live a healthier lifestyle.
Beck has appreciated this nutritious addition on campus.
“It gives me the opportunity to be more healthy,” Beck said, as she was able to buy products such as peaches and cucumbers to share with her roommates.
During the two-hour event, Sanders is present the whole time, talking with students and sharing information with them about living a nutritional lifestyle. At one stand, she was able to share with students how they can cook squash in a microwave.
“It is exciting to have an opportunity to engage (with students) … for that short period of time throughout the semester which is the whole concept of a pop-up,” Sanders said.
Information about Sodexo’s other initiatives can be found at liberty.sodexomyway.com.