The annual All Carolinas Meal is a showcase of local food and a celebration of the Carolinas. This year, the event was held Sept. 10 in the Fountain and Clark dining halls. The event featured live music from The Bridge Brothers outside of Fountain and a unique selection of southern meal items offered at both locations. The success of the event was exemplified by the long lines for food and the large crowd surrounding the stage.
The menu for this night focused on food grown or produced in the Carolinas, including watermelon, sweet potatoes and roasted vegetables. Entree items like beef brisket, blueberry cobbler and fried catfish were reminiscent of the southern comfort foods that many students know and love. Not only was the food styled after Carolina cuisine, it was also sourced locally.
Scott Curtner, manager of Clark dining hall, helped organize the event. He describes the purpose of the event as supporting local producers and teaching students the value of this support.
“We value the products that come out of North Carolina and South Carolina,” Curtner said. “Both states do a very good job of producing food for the United States, and why not highlight it when you can?”
The produce served at the All Carolinas Meal was obtained through US Foods, a national organization that connects local agriculturalists to larger retailers and restaurants. According to Curtner, this is how dining obtains almost all of its food. Jason Piasecki, the representative for US Foods at the event, explained the relationship between US Foods and NC State Dining.
Piasecki said the organization has connections with local vendors, who also have their own partners and business connections. While NC State does not form direct relationships with local vendors and farmers themselves, US Foods acts as a liaison to coordinate these relationships. It makes sourcing an easier task for producers and retailers alike.
In addition to US Foods, NC State Dining also sources locally from the Agroecology Education Farm on campus. The farm was featured at the All Carolinas Meal with its own booth among community vendors. Cole Lee, a fourth-year studying agroecology and part-time worker at the farm, described the farm’s mission of providing local food.
“We’re a small vegetable farm, and everything that we produce goes to the dining halls,” Lee said. “We have a unique relationship with them where they help us out with special projects and we provide them food.”
Almost all of the food in NC State Dining is locally sourced. According to Alison Reeves, manager of the Agroecology Education Farm, the farm is on track to provide about 15,000 pounds of produce this year, which is about 3% of what Dining uses annually. The remaining percentage mainly comes from US Foods and the connections they provide.
Not only does the All Carolinas Meal celebrate the food of the Carolinas, it celebrates the people and producers that make these meals possible. The dinner gave students a chance to be in touch with the culture of their home or new-home state and the people that contribute to this culture.