UBC Undergraduate Research

Creating sustainable food procurement targets for the "AMS Lighter Footprint Strategy" Ruan, Claudia; Skulsky, Kimberly; Thiel, Bryanna; Lin, Alice (Yi-Hsuan); Vafina, Liliya; Wong, Cermay; Yuen, Agnes


This report summarizes the research done by Group 27 for the 2008 University of British Columbia Food Systems Project. This community based action research project was a collaborative effort between the UBC students and staff, the Alma Mater Society Food and Beverage Department (AMSFBD), the Alma Mater Society Sustainability Coordinator, the University of Guelph Hospitality Services and two of the AMSFBD’s produce suppliers. It was conducted by undergraduate students with the help of the teaching team in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, and other stakeholders involved in the effort to make the UBC food system more sustainable. The purpose of this investigation was to determine: (a) the scope of the existing AMSFBD’s sustainable food procurement policies, (b) what is being done to increase sustainable food procurement elsewhere, and (c) what potential areas exist for improvement at UBC. This research was initiated by the drafting of the AMS Lighter Footprint Strategy (AMSLFS) with the goal of having specific targets developed for less ecologically damaging food procurement. We chose to focus on local, namely BC-based food sources, to achieve these ends. Our methods included using “A Guide to Developing a Sustainable Food Purchasing Policy” as a model for target development and collecting data through literature reviews, interviews and email correspondences with stakeholders. We learned from the University of Guelph Hospitality Services that having one’s own vehicle increases sourcing options. The challenges to sourcing local at the AMS include an overworked staff, time constraints, poor storage options for local produce, financial responsibilities to students and the need for transportation options. Challenges to sourcing local for suppliers include BC’s climate, competitive pricing, handling convenience of produce for customers and having their quality standards met. Our findings indicate that subsequent targets for the AMSFBD include (a) defining their parameters of the term ‘local’, (b) publicly recognizing that mushrooms are 100% BC grown, (c) implementing an electronic tracking system to help establish a baseline and (d) consistently expressing the desire to purchase local products when in dialogue with suppliers. The recommended next steps include developing an action plan, an evaluation system for the listed targets, and increasing the transparency of the purchasing system at UBC. 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.”

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