Asbury Named 'Kentucky Proud' Institution

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WILMORE, Ky. — Agriculture Commissioner James Comer announced today that Asbury University has achieved a ‘Kentucky Proud’ designation for its efforts to support local, sustainable agriculture.

Asbury is the first private institution in Kentucky to commit to the “Farm to Campus” initiative, a state-organized program that promotes incorporating local food products at educational institutions. Comer visited Asbury to tour the University’s Mission Farm Project, Equine and Media Communication centers and address students, faculty, staff and community members.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer recognized Asbury as a 'Kentucky Proud' institution. Photo by Bryan Garrett.“I have a passion for the land and agriculture, and you’ve made me feel right at home,” Comer said. “On behalf of all farmers in Kentucky, I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to Asbury University for participating in the Farm to Campus Initiative.”

At the announcement ceremony, students and community members enjoyed biscuits, cider and apples from Central Kentucky farms as Comer, Asbury President Sandra Gray, Bill Sinclair of Pioneer College Caterers, student body president Isaac Archer ’14 and Wilmore Mayor Harold Rainwater addressed the crowd. Rainwater, who is also a faculty member in Asbury’s Equine program, presented Comer with a key to the city.

Gray noted that becoming a Kentucky Proud institution is a natural extension of a philosophy that has been highly valued at Asbury for quite some time.

“We, of all people, understand as Christians that we’re called to be good stewards,” Gray said. “Locally produced food is fresher and healthier, and we’re happy to emphasize health and good stewardship of our environment and bodies.”

Todd Goepper, Food Service Director with Pioneer College Caterers at Asbury, says that he already uses quite a few local food vendors. For example, chickens at Asbury’s own sustainable Mission Farm have been providing fresh eggs, and pork chops come from a farm in Casey County, just three counties away from campus. In fact, Goepper contributed peppers from his own family garden for a special ‘Kentucky Proud’ meal following the announcement.

The move to put even more locally produced foods on Asbury’s cafeteria tables is heartily appreciated by the students, many of whom initiated a conversation about healthy food options with the University’s administration last year. For freshmen Katrina Miller and Claire Van Der Eems, however, their approval of the initiative has personal roots: it feels like home.

“I’m from Vermont, and buying local food is a very big deal there,” Van Der Eems said. “My parents have a kettle corn business that sells in farmer’s markets, so supporting local food is really important to me.”

“My grandparents raise cattle on a farm,” added Miller, a Fort Wayne, Ind., native. “I like supporting local groups and caring for the community.”

Fun Fast Facts:

  • Salad bar items are refreshed constantly. During lunch there are two “runners” constantly refilling items.
  • Ranch dressing is made fresh in-house as of this year, and students are “going through tons of it.” The secret? Real buttermilk.
  • The most popular house recipe is chicken cordon bleu, and the most popular item is the spicy chicken breast.

From left, Kentucky Representative Bob Damron, Asbury Student Body President Isaac Archer '14, Kentucky Senator Tom Buford, Asbury University President Sandra Gray, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, Pioneer College Caterers President Bill Sinclair, Pioneer Senior Vice President of Operations John Pierce, Asbury Food Services Director Todd Goepper, and Wilmore Mayor Harold Rainwater. Photo by Bryan Garrett.

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