By Alexandria Watts
Want some new options for your on-campus dining?
Starting in late summer, Marist College introduced the Farms to Table, or F2T, grocery delivery service to its students and faculty. According to Steve Sansola, co-president of Campus Sustainability Advisory Committee and initiator of the partnership, the goals of this service are to bring students together in the art of food, reduce carbon footprints among Marist community members, and encourage students to learn how to cook and be creative with it.
The F2T box is a grocery delivery service that dispatches food items from over 85 farms scattered in and around the Hudson Valley. Products contained in the boxes range from dairy and produce to protein and miscellaneous pantry items like condiments and snacks. The company additionally offers dietary options with vegetarian and gluten-free goods, as well as online recipes for those who are new to cooking to follow.
Buyers have a choice in what foods they can select, as the box is ordered “à la carte”-style, therefore setting the overall subscription price at whatever the student is willing to pay. Boxes can also be ordered on a weekly or biweekly basis and are dropped off twice on Mondays, once for the students on the east side of campus and once for those on the west. Additionally, purchases can be altered or cancelled entirely with ease.
This grocery delivery service is sponsored by the Campus Sustainability Advisory Committee and in co-partnership with the Office of Human Resources and Wellness. In past years, the college had a community-supported agricultural farm share; however, they failed in providing service to the students this fall. Sansola, who originally brought the farm share project to Marist, then decided to begin a collaboration with the Farms to Table program in place of the farm share.
One obvious positive about the grocery service is that it gives students who have no way to get around the Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park areas an opportunity to broaden their palates and substitute their meals with other local options. “Even though we have great dining, there’s still a need for our students, particularly sophomores who fall below 50 credits…and can’t have a vehicle, to [be provided]…with [the] opportunity to access good foods,” shares Sansola. “This was a great way to bring the service right to campus.”
“I like that the service comes to campus and that I can just pick it up on my way home,” says Alicia Plevritis, the administrative coordinator of Student Affairs who has ordered from the service and is satisfied with the partnership overall.
“I love to cook,” explains Grace George, a Marist student who saw the F2T advertisement on myMarist and thought it would be a great opportunity for her to purchase groceries. “They sent a lot of interesting things that I didn’t really work with a lot, so that was fun to experiment with.”
“Not everyone likes to cook, or they haven’t had a great experience,” comments Sansola, “but it’s a great way to socialize with your roommates, some of whom you may know or not know. It’s a great way to meet other people to break bread and be social with food.”
The F2T boxes seem to have many positive aspects, but there is one serious problem that the program must deeply consider. According to Sansola, the number of subscriptions has increased from 30 at the start of the fall to 45. Although therein lies an improving trend, why are these subscription numbers so low?
Sansola believes that the main reason student subscription is so low is because they have not read the emails that have been sent out nor seen the small advertisement on their myMarist pages.
Price can also come to be a downfall for student participation in F2T boxes. As Sansola explains, “buying foods that are free from chemicals, refrigeration, and processing [tends] to be a little more costly.” But it could be worth a try if individuals are interested in eating healthier options during their time here.
While the Farms to Table company seems to be versatile with its options, one thing it is not versatile with is its timing. “The one thing you have to be careful of is that you have to fit into their schedule,” warns George. “They’re not overly flexible about times for when you can pick up.” The reason she cancelled her box was due to having a class right after the company was going to deliver her box and not being able to get to it all the time.
George, who bought a medium-sized box before the introduction to the “à la carte”-style, says, “I would recommend the box if you like to cook because it’s going to send you a lot of things to experiment with. But if you’re a very basic, subsistence cooker, then you’re not really going to like it that much because you’re going to spend a lot of money on produce you’re not going to know what to do with. But if you have the inclination to cook like that, then yeah, I would recommend it.”
The Farms to Table grocery delivery service is definitely a subscription with its ups and downs, but there is potential for enjoyment within the overall subscription if individuals are interested in eating healthier and becoming independent from a meal plan.