Auburn University students benefit from healthy food options and locally grown produce

Published: October 23, 2015
Updated: October 26, 2015
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Auburn University’s Tiger Dining strives to provide students with dining options that best fit their lifestyles, from healthy food options to meals that adhere to special dietary needs. This commitment to offer excellent food options has brought fresh produce and meats from the Lee County area to dining venues.

"Since Auburn University is an agriculture school, what better place to highlight a local farmer than to bring local produce to campus," said Glenn Loughridge, director of Campus Dining.

Auburn’s healthy dining vision is being recognized across the country.

The university is on the list of Top 10 Gluten-Free Accommodating Colleges by Udi, the number one gluten-free brand in America. As part of Auburn’s mission to better serve students with special dietary needs, the Wellness Kitchen features a gluten- and allergen-free prep area.

The university also has taken part in the Made Without Gluten initiative, which gives those who choose to eat gluten-free a breakdown of each dining venue by restaurant, detailing which food items are made with gluten-free ingredients. Students with special dietary needs can also join the Special Dietary Needs Advisory Council, a peer-led group that provides resources, support and advice for students with special diets. 

Part of Auburn’s plan for providing healthy, nutritious meals includes serving food grown on campus and in the Auburn community.

Tiger Dining has partnered with the Auburn University Lambert-Powell Meats Laboratory to source pork for the AU Smokehouse, located in Lupton Hall in the Lower Quad residence halls. The pork is grown at the campus Swine Research and Education complex. 

"This partnership between Auburn agriculture, Campus Dining and Chartwells is one of the ways we are working to connect Auburn students to their food," said Loughridge. "What’s exciting is that not only are we getting a fresh, high quality product, we’re also supporting the academic mission of the university and becoming more sustainable at the same time."

The AU Smokehouse serves the meat in a variety of ways, from a barbecue plate to barbecue "pit nachos."

Terrell Market provides fresh, local produce

Another dining venue that offers produce and goods from companies in the Auburn and Opelika area is the Terrell Market – a place where students can purchase local, fresh ingredients to eat or use for cooking.

One of the products available in the market is bags of produce from Hornsby Farms. The bags have fresh fruit and vegetables that are delivered to campus one week after being picked. The bags also come with a recipe that utilizes the ingredients in the bag.

"I bought one of the produce bags last week," said freshman Maggie Elliot. "The cool part about the bag was the recipe provided was microwaveable. I could make a meal with fresh produce right in my dorm room."

The relationship Tiger Dining has built with local farmers provides the unique opportunity to give back to the community and Auburn alumni’s businesses. Alumni have the chance to interact with students as well as grow their businesses by having their products available for purchase on a large college campus.

Ralf Du Toit, owner of Extreme Green Hydroponics, is one farmer who has formed a relationship with Tiger Dining by selling his lettuce at the Terrell Market, while his tomatoes and cucumbers are served in other on-campus dining venues.

"The university is very important to me from a sales perspective," said Du Toit. "It’s a good feeling to say I sell to the university, especially since my daughter Caroline goes to Auburn."

Caroline, a sophomore in agricultural economics, chose her major while helping at her father’s farm, where she is gaining real life experience helping fill orders for customers. The father-daughter duo represents just one of many local products available at the market.

Other products available in the market include McEwen & Sons ground grits, cornmeal and organic popcorn, Jesse’s Girls Honey, Mama Mocha’s coffee, Wickles Pickles, T.Lish dressings and sauces and Fox Point Farm goat milk caramels.

If the produce is not purchased from the market within a few days, it is used in other dining venues around campus.

The market helps Tiger Dining accomplish its larger vision of sourcing locally grown food in dining venues across campus.

"If I had one mission, I would want students to think back to their time at Auburn and they would fondly remember eating here," said Loughridge. "That it would be a part of the great Auburn experience we all have."

The Terrell Market is open Monday through Thursdays 8 a.m.-1 a.m., Fridays 8 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturdays 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sundays 10:30 a.m.-1 a.m.

For more information about Auburn University’s Tiger Dining and on-campus dining options, visit the Tiger Dining website at http://www.auburn.edu/administration/auxiliary_services/dining/.

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