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UBC Food System Project : AMS Food and Beverage Service Chan, Vivian; Gomez, Francis; Lam, Julie; Racic, Helen; Sy, Hong; Treloar, Jonathan; Woolley, Suzanne 2002-04-03

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UBC Social Ecological Economic Development Studies (SEEDS) Student Report       UBC Food System Project: AMS Food and Beverage Service Vivian Chan, Francis Gomez, Julie Lam, Helen Racic, Hong Sy, Jonathan Treloar, Suzanne Woolley  University of British Columbia AGSC 450 April 3, 2002           Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report”.  AMS Food Services, Gro up 5  10/23/ 2012  1        UBC Food System Project:  AMS Food and Beverage Service                AGSC 450 Gro up 5 Vivi an Chan Fran cis Gomez Jul ie Lam Hel en Racic Hong Sy Jon at han Trel oar Suzann e Woo ll ey    AMS Food Services, Gro up 5  10/23/ 2012  2  Abstract  Our anal ysi s of the AMS Food Ser vi ces is base d on a syst ems appr oac h usi ng a communi t y -bas ed, weak ant hr opocentr i c ethi cal per spect i ve.  From per sonal inter vi ews and res earch ar ti cl es , our group conc luded that the AMS Food Ser vi ces has done a fair job in meet i ng cer t ai n cri t eri a of sust ai nabil it y. AMS has shown incr eas ed prof it s over the past four years and has made eff or t s to suppor t the local economy.  For soc ial sust ainabi li t y, we focuse d on food securi t y and profi t dist ri but i on issues.  Composi ng, was t e mana ge ment and purcha si ng prac ti ces cont ri but e to ecol ogi c al sust ai nabil it y.  Over al l , our group recommends that the AMS Food Ser vi ces has to increase support and awarene ss from the uni ver si t y communi t y to hel p crea te a sus tai nable UBC food syst em.   Introduction  T he result s of our preli mi nar y asse ssment of the UBC food syst em show that steps ar e bei ng taken to ma ke the syst em mor e sustai nabl e.  However , much mor e awar enes s and suppor t is needed from the UBC communi t y in order for the food system to mo ve towards long -t er m sus t ai nabili t y.     Economi c fact or s have pr imar i l y been the impet us when deci si ons are made of how food i s obt ai ned, produced and distr i but ed on campus.  Beca use of thi s, how and where we spe nd our money on campus is j ust as important as “recycle, reduce, and re - use”.  In order for a sustainable food system to be economically vi abl e on campus, the UBC communi t y must be wil li ng to support the curr ent ini ti ati ves devel oped to contr i but e to the sust ainabi li t y of the operati on as well as the recommenda t ions set out in thi s paper .   A more hol i st ic par adi gm must al so be adopt ed in order to creat e long -t er m economi c , soc i al and ecol ogi cal sust ai nabi li t y.  Sust ai nabil it y is not one set pract ice , but rather an ideal of how land, food and communi t y shoul d be uti li zed.  Our recommenda t i ons ar e bas ed on a syst ems approac h of the campus, wher e component s of the system ar e compr ise d of the people and busi ness es invol ved in food manuf act ur e, processi ng, dist ri buti on and mar ket i ng.  The syst em al so incl udes the local envi ronment , local communi t i es , and anyt hi ng el se that could be aff ected by UBC food pol icies .  Alt hough we hav e made an eff ort to focus on AMS Food Services, Gro up 5  10/23/ 2012  3  t he wel l -bei ng of the system as a whole , rat her than its indi vi dual components, our tas k requi res ass ess ing and making recommendations pertaining specifically to the Alma Mater Society’s (AMS) Food Services and t hei r pract ice s.    Value Assumptions   When eval uat i ng and offering recommenda t i ons concer ni ng the sust ai nabil it y of the AMS Food Ser vi ce s we must keep in mind that the viabil i t y of thi s oper at ion, like that of any other busi nes s, is ultimately determined by the customer.  Hence, the success of our group’s analysis will require an understanding of the values and ethical principles that influence the customer’s decision to patron i ze the AMS food and bever age out l et s.  In att empt i ng to asc ert ain thes e pri nci ples our group consult ed wit h the AMS Food and Bever age Manager , Nancy Toogood, to disc uss mat t er s regar di ng cus t omer pur chasi ng pract ice s.  We wer e inf or med that whi le an incr e ase in demand for items pr oduce d in a more envir onment all y and soci al l y sust ai nabl e manne r has been obser ved, the over r i di ng deci sion to purchas e a product remai ns depe ndent upon the benef its to be acquir ed by the customer , namel y af f or dabil it y, accessi bil it y and tas te preferenc es.  Thi s knowl edge has led our group to concl ude that the domi nant phil osophi cal perspe ct i ve hel d by the maj or it y of pat r ons is an ant hr opocentr ic or human -ce nt er ed view.     We real i ze, however , that an asse ss ment of the cur rent and futur e sust ai nabi li t y of the AMS Food Ser vi ce s, inf or med sol el y by an absol ut e human -ce nt er ed view, woul d make for an incompl et e and flawed anal ysi s.  As menti oned, to achi eve long -t er m sus t ai nabil it y we hol d that a mor e uni fi ed appr oac h must be taken, one that views the AMS Food Ser vi ces as a system compr i se d of the people and businesse s invol ved in runni ng the operati on, the local communi t y, whi ch incl udes the food out l et patr ons, and the local envir onment .  Ther ef ore, when under taki ng thi s task we acknowl edge that the views of our group are likel y to compl ement the per specti ves hel d by the maj ori t y of the AMS Food Service patrons.  Hence, the ethical principles that will guide the group’s analysis will consist of a weak, communi t y - based anthropocentric perspective informed by Murdy’s view as explained in AMS Food Services, Gro up 5  10/23/ 2012  4  Envi r onment al Ethi cs: Di ver genc e and Conver genc e (Mur dy, 1993) .  Thi s defi niti on cont ends that to be anthropocentric does not mean that no value is held on the natural world, rather “it means to value things human more than other things in nature.”   Based on this perspective, wh en asse ssing and ma ki ng recommenda t i ons concer ning the sust ai nabi li t y of the AMS Food Ser vi ce s, a higher regar d wil l be plac ed on those aspect s of the food syst em whi ch place human needs bef ore the best int erest s of the nat ur al wor ld.  Specif ica ll y, fact or s contr i but i ng to the economi c and soci al sustai nabil it y of the AMS Food Ser vi ces wil l be viewed as bei ng mor e cri ti cal component s in achi evi ng long -t er m sus t ai nabil it y than will fact ors best owi ng envi r onment al sust ai nabi lity.     Description of AMS T he Alma Mater Soci et y, est abl ishe d in 1915, is an indepe ndent nonprofi t st udent soci et y of UBC.  All UBC students are members of the AMS whose mission is “to improve the educational, social and personal lives of each and every member” ( htt p: // www.ams.ubc .ca ) .  The AMS Food Ser vi ces are run by the AMS and consi st of many res t aur ant s and food outl et s that are all locat ed in the Student Uni on Bui ldi ng.  These outlets include Bernoulli’s Bagels, Blue Chip Cookies, Burger Bar, Gallery Lounge, The Moon, The Pendulum, Pie R Squared, The Pit and Snac k Attac k.  Curr ent l y, the maj or food distr ibut or of the AMS Food Ser vi ces is Sysc o Koni ngs Wholes al e (Br own, 2001) .  The AMS also purcha ses a smal l per cent age (<5%) of produce from loca l far ms (N. Toogood, per sonal int er vi ew, 27 Mar ch 2002) .  This rel at i onshi p is limi t ed by the seasonal it y and the quanti t y of food that can be provi ded.  Cost consi der at ions also play a pivotal role in pur chasi ng deci si ons.  Most of the food being ser ved at the AMS food and bever age out let s is made from raw mat eri als on sit e; al most no pre -pac kaged food products are pur chase d from food dist ri butor s.   The AMS Impac t s Commi t t ee , consi st i ng of st udents and a repres ent at i ve from the UBC Sust ai nabil it y Off i ce, is a standi ng c ommi t t ee for med each year under the VP Admi nistr ati on to look at the ecol ogi cal and social sust ainabil it y of the busi ness es and act i vi ti es of the AMS (ht t p: // www.sust .  AMS Food Services, Gro up 5  10/23/ 2012  6   led to the conc lusion that gene r al cont ent ment exist s regar di ng the AMS Food Ser vi ces pri ces . Pri ces , cons idered to be fai r and stabl e, wer e stat ed as being wit hi n the budgets of the maj orit y of indi vi dual s wishing to pat r oni ze the food outl et s.  Student wages ar e also consi der ed sat isf act or y as th ey ar e above mini mu m wage.  The student may then be pai d mor e than his/ her count erpart worki ng at a simi l ar food out let off campus.   In addi t ion, the AMS is incr easi ng the use of local product s  this ma y enha nce local food producti on in the communi t y and incr eas e job opport uni ties .  Purchasi ng loca ll y, however , may res ul t in increa se d cost s; theref or e, this pract ice is cur rentl y bei ng per f or med on a relati vel y smal l -sc al e as purcha si ng deci si ons are pri mar il y det ermi ned by cos t .  Att empt s to seek new and strengt hen exist ing rel at ionshi ps wit h local producer s (incl uding the UBC Far m) shoul d be expl ored for the pot enti al to buy loca ll y at decrea sed cos ts.   Social Sustainability K ey cri t er ia to exami ne when asse ssi ng the soci al sustai nabi lit y of the AMS Food Ser vi ces incl ude its impac t on food securi t y in the UBC communi t y as wel l as a look of how the bene fi ts obt ained thr ough this oper at ion are dist ri buted.  Foo d securi t y exists "when all people, at all times , have physi ca l and economi c access to suf fi cient, saf e and nutr it i ous food to meet thei r diet ar y needs and food prefer ence s for an acti ve and heal thy life" (T ar as uk, 2001) .    T he AMS out l et s hel p to contr i but e to food securi t y by provi di ng a var i et y of nutr it i ous food that is aff or dabl e (as discussed previ ousl y) and cult ur all y acce pt abl e. The Moon, fo r exampl e, was establi shed to cat er to the increa si ng Asi an populati on at UBC.  However , the accessi bil it y of the food pres ent s a problem si nce all of the provi ders are loca ted in the SUB.  This set -up is not conveni ent for cust omer s who ar e in less centr a l area s of campus and whose food pur chas es are constr ai ned by time.  Long line -ups duri ng the lunch hour may al so impede accessi bil it y to food for indi vi dual s budget ed for time.  In addi t ion to the somet i mes lack of attai nabil it y of food, duri ng peak oper a t i ng hours, there exi st s AMS Food Services, Gro up 5  10/23/ 2012  7  t he probl em of insuf fi ci ent seati ng and lack of a rel axing at mosphe r e in whi ch to enj oy the meal (Far r el l Res ear ch Group, 1996) . Bene fi t s from food and bever age sal es by the AMS are dist ri buted in ways whic h contr i but e to social su stai nabil it y.  All profit s recei ved from the out lets are cycl ed back int o st udent ini ti ati ves that ar e provi ded for and by UBC st udent s (N. Toogood, per sonal int ervi ew, 27 Mar 2002) .  Exampl es of such ser vi ces include: J obl ink, Saf ewal k, Speakea sy, Ombuds Off i ce, Vol untee r Ser vi ces , and the Advoca cy Off i ce.  As this prac ti ce on campus is uni que to the AMS Food Servi ce s, eff or ts to dist ingui sh themse l ves from the UBC Food Ser vi ces may res ult in incr ease d communi t y suppor t and may play an infl uent i al role in att r acti ng cus t omer s.  Environmental Sustainability T he impac t of a food syst em on envi r onment al qual it y is a cri ti cal component to exami ne when assess ing for sustai nabil it y.  As an element of the overal l food syst em at UBC, the AMS Food Ser vi ce s has shown many indi cat ors of envi r onment al sust ainabi li t y. For exampl e, a composti ng set -up has been est abli shed in close proxi mi t y to the SUB (N. Toogood, personal int er vi ew, 27 Mar ch 2002).  The devel opment of thi s system indicat es an eff or t to reduce landfi ll an d promot e local nut ri ent cycli ng; thes e are bot h signi fi cant indi cat ors of sust ai nabil it y.  Whil e the ef f ort shoul d be appl auded, refi nement of thi s syst em is dearl y needed.  The composti ng syst em itsel f is unsight l y and has been place d in plant ing beds wi t h the removal of smal l shr ubs.  A syst em of compost pick -up is neede d thr oughout campus.  This would then see food wast es cycl ed to South Campus Far m and used for crop nut ri ent s in a larger campus -wi de compost i ng progr am.  The AMS Food Ser vi ce s woul d not need to mai nt ai n the compost i ng syst em and the nut ri ent s coul d be mana ged to grow food.   In addi t i on, was te reduct i on progr ams are in plac e thr oughout the AMS food ser vice out l et s.  Disc ount s ar e off ered for those who bri ng their own cof f ee mugs, such as the 10-ce nt savi ngs avai l abl e at Blue Chip Cooki es .  An oppor t unit y to pur chase Tupper ware cont ai ner s at cost is also off ered indica ti ng a si ncer e desi re to reduce the gar bage pr oduced at the SUB.  Alt hough thes e ini ti at i ves are in plac e, consumer s ar e gener all y obli vi ous to disc ounts and promot i ons off ered by the outl et s.  Matt ers are fur t her compl i cat ed AMS Food Services, Gro up 5  10/23/ 2012  8  by st aff me mber s who are eit her unaware of the disc ount s altoget her or who are provi di ng pat rons wit h misi nf or mat ion wit h regar di ng disc ount amount s.  Als o, contr ibuti ng to wast e reducti on is the fact that al most all of the food is prepar ed from scr atch.  Thi s reduce s the amount of packagi ng that is brought on to campus.  By decr easi ng the amount of gar bage, trash remo val cost s and envi ronment al impac ts are mini mi zed.   Furt her mor e, mor e inf or med pur chasi ng pract ice s are incr eas ingl y bei ng impl eme nt ed. An exampl e is the recent switch of cof f ee br ands from Nes t le to Cant erburr y, a mor e local company (N. Toogood, per sonal int er vi ew, 27 March 2002) .  Thi s pract ice has reduce d shi ppi ng dist ance s, ther eby decr easi ng the usa ge of fossi l fuel s and envi r onment al pol luti on.  As ment i oned previ ousl y, oppor t unit i es to incr eas e the level of loca l purcha si ng shoul d be sought .      Conclusion/Recommendations AMS is alr ea dy taki ng many st eps to ensur e the ecol ogi cal , economi c, and soci al sust ai nabil it y of the UBC food syst em.  The initi ati ves in plac e for m an int egr al component in reachi ng the goal of sustai nabili t y; however , many have not been succe ssf ul .  Since the AMS is student run and dri ven by demand, it is esse nt ial that both the student s and the rest of the UBC commu ni t y are knowl edgea ble about the iss ues and the at tempt s that are made to make the food system mor e sust ai nabl e.  Wit h adde d suppor t and commi t ment there is a great opport uni t y for change in AMS Food Ser vi ce s, whi ch woul d put pres sur e in the res t of the syst em to ma ke a grea t er move towar ds sust ai nabi li t y.  Whil e this transf or mat i on is in progr ess, the AMS should cont i nue to make sust ai nabi li t y a pri or it y a nd att empt to expand and promot e the cur rent ini ti at i ves .  The fol l owi ng recommenda t i ons are ways in whi ch the UBC Sust ainabi li t y Offi ce can hel p wit h this ende avor .  As previ ousl y menti oned, due to the ethi cal pri nci pl es whi ch have gui ded thi s anal ysi s, recommenda t i ons cont ri buti ng to the economi c and soci al sust ai nabil it y of the AMS Food Ser vi ces shoul d be viewed as bei ng mor e cri ti cal in achi evi ng long-t er m s ust ai nabil it y than effort s aimed at obt ai ni ng envi r onment al sust ai nabi lity.    1. Ma ke eff ort s to promot e/ adver t i se cur r ent AMS sust ainabil it y init iati ves . AMS Food Services, Gro up 5  10/23/ 2012  9  2. At t empt to make mor e obvi ous disti nct ions bet ween AMS and UBC food ser vi ces.    3. Devel op AMS out let s in other areas of campus to increa se acces si bili t y. 4. Devel op mor e areas wher e one coul d sit and enj oy his/her meal . 5. Expand the curr ent compost i ng syst em. 6. Impl ement pol icy that make s sust ai nabil it y ef f or ts univer sa ll y incor porat ed int o budget i ng al lowanc es. 7. Support buyi ng relati onships with local grower s, incl udi ng UBC far m. Ther e ar e few quest i ons that need to be addr ess ed in the fut ure to assi st in thi s move ment towar ds sus tai nabil it y.  Since inf ormat i on provi si on to empl oyee s and cust omer s by the AMS is obvi ousl y fail ing, it is nece ssa r y to deter mi ne what met hods woul d be succes sful in promot i ng sus tai nabil it y is sues and how mor e support can be obtai ned.  It wil l also be helpf ul to obtain data regardi ng what impac t tuit i on incr eas es wil l have on the demands and spendi ng habi ts of the student s. As well , a thorough anal ysi s of what opport unit ies exi st to uti li ze the res our ces of the UBC Far m for provisi on and wast e mana gemen t is needed.   


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