Liberty offers fresh produce: Students enjoy baked goods and more
Sodexo hosted the first produce stand of the spring semester Jan. 31, allowing students to purchase fresh produce, baked goods and more.
Sodexo has strived to host this produce stand at least three times each semester since the first produce stand event in 2017.
Each time, the campus dietician, Rachel Sanders, has planned and executed the event.
“(Sanders’) intention was having a healthy way for students to spend their dining dollars,” Marketing Manager Shelby Burton said.
In preparation for the stand, Sodexo places a produce order with their local supplier, Cavalier Produce from Louisa, Virginia.
“We try to bring things onto the campus that they don’t regularly see on campus,” Burton said. “We know that students really like berries, and we don’t regularly see them coming in.”
At this produce stand, students could purchase fruits such as kiwis, blackberries and pears. Student favorites — mangoes and strawberries — sold out within the first hour of opening. Sodexo has attempted to offer choices that students will enjoy while prioritizing healthy options.
To accommodate to student dining plans, Sodexo allows purchases to be made with a variety of payment methods — including dining dollars, Flames Cash, credit card or cash.
“We do a lot of intentional decision-making through the planning process,” Burton said
Some other produce offered at this stand included carrots, snap peas and other vegetables. Alongside the fresh produce, Sodexo provided goods that are created in the bake shop within the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall, such as lemon blueberry bread.
As time progresses, Burton found students gaining more excitement for the produce stand.
“Students will come up and thank us for doing this. They see the intention of bringing healthy options onto the campus and giving them access to it,” Burton said.
Alongside the stand, Sodexo prepares a healthy meal option available for purchase. District Chef Barry Spence crafts a menu each time and serves free samples at the event. This time, he cooked a white chicken and chorizo chili with cheddar-jalapeño cornbread.
Both students and faculty alike could enjoy the healthy options. Cataloging specialist Carsyn Haley joined fellow staff from the Jerry Falwell Library to explore the produce stand. The faculty enjoyed tasting the chili and cornbread that Spence made for the event while reflecting on their past experiences at the stand.
“It’s been a good variety. The food is different from what you see around campus or in the dining hall,” Haley said. “It’s been really good food.”
Based on popularity of the produce stand, Sodexo sees potential for growth in the future.
“It might evolve into different things,” Burton said. “We’ve talked about making it into a farmer’s market and bringing other vendors on campus. Or maybe having a featured vendor each time.”
Sodexo plans to host at least two more stands this semester.
For more information on Liberty Dining, visit their website.
Garman is a news reporter for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on X