UK Weighing Privatizing Dining Services, Growing Partnerships With Local Farmers

Apr 3, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Kentucky made headlines for privatizing its residence halls last year. Now the university’s dining services could be next in line. UK is set to solicit proposals from companies interested in operating campus dining services.

While there is no formal deadline to make a decision, interested parties including faculty and students are pressing the university to include contract requirements that ensure a strong connection between the school and local food growers should the UK decide to privatize. UK agricultural economics professor Lee Meyer says the university should not only maintain its bond with Kentucky Proud sellers but expand it.

"UK Dining Services has purchased over $900,000 of Kentucky Proud and local food over the past year and I think that's roughly around 14 or 15 percent of of the food that they buy," Meyer says.

Meyer says it’s important that UK be clear about what it means by locally grown. The Kentucky Proud label still allows for food to be grown outside the state but processed in the Bluegrass. He says he’d like to see the university put some “teeth” in any future contracts and make sure the agreements benefit Kentucky farmers.