Intersector collaboration promotes local agriculture, healthy eating in Kentucky

blogimage_kentuckyfoodAn intersector collaboration among the University of Kentucky (UK), global food provider Aramark, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, and local farmers and community members aims to promote Kentucky agriculture and healthy eating among the state’s residents. “This is an unprecedented public-private partnership and potentially a national model for the study and promotion of food” in the state, said UK President Eli Capilouto.

Through the partnership, Aramark will receive a $245 million,15-year contract to provide dining services to UK students, faculty, and staff. Aramark will provide new dining facilities for UK students that will serve food sourced from Kentucky farmers through the Department of Agriculture’s “Kentucky Proud” program. The corporation will also fund a new $5 million “Food Connection” center whose aim is to promote vibrant, healthy, sustainable food economy in Kentucky through research and innovation.

“This partnership further inspires the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment community to enhance the food economy through new ideas to promote and enhance Kentucky’s food producers and their products,” said Dean Nancy Cox. “Our community is passionate about the new possibilities afforded by the Food Connection.”

The $5 million grant from Aramark includes $1 million to endow undergraduate and graduate internships and fellowships, $250,000 in one-time start-up costs for equipment and programmatic needs, and $250,000 annually over a 15-year term for staff, programming, research grants, and other initiatives. Other focus areas include food innovation seed grants for faculty research and sustaining and expanding the university’s current collaborations in food and nutrition.