This fall, Sodexo will open its new “Stir-Fresh Stir-Fry” venue, which looks to continue Sodexo’s “Local First” initiative, replacing Taco Bell on the first floor of Campus Center.
“In Hawai‘i, we have the unique opportunity to drastically reduce our environmental impact by purchasing locally grown foods and products from locally owned businesses,” said Derek Sayegusa of Sodexo Campus Services in Hawai‘i.
At the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa last year, Sodexo was able to source more than 100,000 tons of local produce, which was approximately 30 percent of its total usage.
Local farmers appreciate this feat. Noi of the university’s Farmers’ Market on campus explained that supporting local farmers improves the local economy.
According to Senate Bill 937 and the Pacific Regional Integrated Science and Assessments Program, Hawai‘i imports about 92 percent of its food. The bill states that, in the event of a natural disaster or an economic disruption, Hawai‘i’s reliance on out-of-state food sources will place residents at a shortage. Local economic growth is hindered by the importation of food products. The bill states that, if 10 percent of the current food imports are replaced with local produce, then about 2,300 jobs will be created.
“An increase in usage of local produce by venues on the university’s campus will help to reduce the reliance on mainland imports,” Sayegusa said. “Being that almost everything consumed in our state must be shipped long distances, every local purchase that we make benefits the local community and economy.”
Students like Ryan Silao, a sophomore business major, appreciate local ingredients when they buy food on campus.
“I prefer that the ingredients were grown locally because I think that food will be of better quality and healthier for you,” Silao said. “Buying local ingredients will also help improve the economy in Hawai‘i.”
Sodexo enjoys a partnership with Armstrong Produce, a locally based company, which
helps Sodexo to source out the “best and freshest local products when possible,” Sayegusa said.
The types of local produce that are used on campus on a day-to-day basis include bananas, basil, Chinese cabbage, cantaloupe, chives, parsley, pineapple, zucchini, eggplant, ginger, dragon fruit, onions, broccoli, tomatoes and more. Armstrong uses a variety of local farms to source out the produce including Sugarland, Aloun Farms, Sumida Farms, Nalo Farms and more.
The new “Stir-Fresh Stir-Fry, Rice Bowls, Udon Noodles & More” comes as a response to the requests made by students in the Fall Student Survey. According to Sayegusa, students asked for more “Asian options on campus as well as more budget-friendly options.” Sayegusa stated that Stir-Fresh will allow diners the freshest dining experience for their meal without heavy costs.
While fresh produce plays a role in dining choices to students, the price of the product can be a deal breaker.
“The prices at Stir-Fresh will be very budget-conscious, offering a nice full, fresh meal for our diners at a price that is easy on the wallet,” Sayegusa said.
A reasonable price is a bonus for students like Cory Mau, a sophomore education major.
“Local ingredients are important, but price is also important,” Mau said. “Price is one of the first things I look for when buying food on campus.”
The partnership between Sodexo and Student Affairs at the university provides dining services on campus that range from the food court, Ba-Le and the Hale Aloha Café at the dormitories to the concessions at Stan Sheriff Center.