At lunch Tuesday at The Hive cafeteria, SCAD freshman Hannah Allred had made a longer journey to get to Savannah than did all the food on her plate.
Allred is an equestrian studies major from Tampa. The pork loin and veggies she was happily munching were all sourced within 150 miles of Savannah as part of an Eat Local Challenge.
"I want to know where my food comes from," said Allred. "And locally based is helping local farmers."
SCAD's cafÃ©s have been run since June 2012 by Bon AppÃ©tit Management Co., a food service company with more than 500 cafÃ©s in 32 states, which also serves Starbucks headquarters employees, The Getty Center guests and MIT students, among others.
The company requires its chefs to source at least 20 percent of their foods locally. At SCAD it's been more like 35 percent, said Bon AppÃ©tit's SCAD Executive Chef Emanuel May, who worked for the company at various places, including Duke University, before coming to SCAD.
For one meal a year Bon AppÃ©tit's local sourcing is ratcheted up to 100 percent for the Eat Local Challenge where every ingredient except the salt is sourced nearby.
This is not the food you ate in college.
A "global station" served muscadine glazed Savannah River Farms pork loin and roasted asparagus. A "Savannah comforts station" offered Sapelo Island clams with Savannah River Farms andouille and roasted red potatoes and yellow zucchini from Gruber Farms in St. George, S.C.
About 2,100 SCAD students and staffers were exposed to the fully local meal Tuesday. It's a challenge May loves both for the creativity it requires and the boost it gives local farmers, many of whom were recruited to become SCAD suppliers through the Forsyth Farmers Market.
"It's been a big help to me," said Stanley Gruber of Gruber Farms, who attended the Eat Local Challenge. Before being recruited to supply SCAD, Gruber was already growing a variety of foods for a Community Supported Agriculture program. "It gave me a market for a lot of things I was growing â€¦ all the way from sweet corn to we're doing an organic asparagus and sugar cane now."
Topping off the meal Tuesday were miniature cream puffs. Light and airy with honey-sweetened fresh whipped cream inside, they were proof positive that local can equal luscious.
Students' response to them was all the feedback May needed.
"There was a kid over there with a whole cereal bowl full," May said.