The University of Montana's dining program is getting national attention. Foodservice Director Magazine named UM's Farm to College Program, or FTC, the "Best Overall Sustainability Program I've Seen." The goal of FTC is to support agriculture and the state's economy, while also serving healthier food on campus.
Less than a year after celebrating it's 10th anniversary, FTC is getting listed as the best in the nation by Foodservice Director Magazine, a national trade publication for the noncommercial food industry.
"That's something our students want us to be using. They want us to have a strong and vibrant local foods program," said UM Dining Director Mark LoParco.
In 2003, LoParco and another professor decided they wanted to make it their mission to bring college students healthier food. That's when they slowly started to build healthier food services on campus.
"From there the rest is history, and we've just been continuing to develop the program each year," LoParco said.
Now, UM dining buys more than $800,000 in food from Montana producers. The university also grows a portion of its own food on campus with a garden and aquaponics system. That's a system that uses fish to fertilize crops and herbs.
"It's doing what it was designed to do. We're stimulating and helping agriculture businesses in the state of Montana," LoParco said.
Not only are the healthy options on campus getting recognized, but the Galloping Griz Food Truck made the magazine's Ideas and Innovation list, under the "Best New Items of 2013" category for it's "bombs," the truck's signature wraps.
"This was something developed by the manager of the concession area, and the bombs are the bomb now," LoParco said.
He said after all of the work, it's about time UM's Dining services are getting recognition.
"We're kind of on a roll here, getting some substantial recognition," LoParco said.
UM's Farm to College program also received the gold medal award from the National Association of College and University Food Services last summer.