Food Systems Initiative/ Food Connection Partnership Agreement

Soon after the announcement that outsourcing of UK dining services was under consideration, faculty leadership of what came be known as the Food Systems Initiative (FSI) of the Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment, with others on and off campus, effectively advocated that sustainable sourcing and academic integration be honored in the continuing campus dining operations. The University’s 2014 agreement with Aramark responded to these concerns in part through the creation and funding of The Food Connection at UK. Subsequently The Food Connection was framed and began its operations to, above all, support UK’s Land Grant mission, as articulated by FSI.

The terms of the UK Dining contract, and the administratively-led implementation of those terms, allowed for academic representation in continuing operations of the Food Connection by placing the FC under the umbrella of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. However, faculty governance, as such, was precluded by establishment of a governing Board for the Food Connection led by Aramark and administration.

For these reasons it is essential that a clear, strong faculty advisory presence be established to advise and support Food Connection programs. The FSI is the most appropriate source of such guidance at this time. We propose/request that the FSI or a sub-committee of the FSI adopt the faculty advisory role for The Food Connection, for as long as both entities continue.

Our proposed strategy is that future meetings of the FSI (as the Planning Committee or other) include The Food Connection as a recurring and distinct component of their agenda. The Executive Director of The Food Connection would plan and lead this component of the meeting to include: reports on current operations, future plans, opportunities for faculty engagement in programs and activities, and issues for faculty discussion and advice. This committee would have the dual designation of The Food Connection’s Faculty Advisory Committee. The Food Connection Executive Director, Faculty Chair and other appropriate Food Connection staff would continue as members of the FSI. At all times, the Executive Director would strive to keep the Faculty Advisory Committee well-informed of challenges, programs and progress of the Food Connection, and seek their advice as appropriate.

Our goal is to establish a sustainable, synergistic partnership between The Food Connection and FSI which not only enables faculty engagement at the FC but effectively promotes the Land Grant mission in food systems and food studies at the University of Kentucky.

© 2013 Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment