Monthly Archives: September 2015

What is the Demske Culinary Support Center?

Miami University Dining Services serves over 20,000 students, staff and faculty everyday, between the Oxford and regional campuses. At the center of that is the Demske Culinary Support Center (DCSC), which has been the Miami University food service headquarters since 2001. Located on Wells Mill Drive (behind T.J. Maxx), DCSC serves as a warehouse, production center and distribution hub for all of Miami’s food operations. While most universities partner with external companies to supply their food, Miami University Dining doesn’t need to rely on a corporate company because of the Culinary Support Center.

Okay, so why should you care?

First of all, the Culinary Support Center ensures students and staff higher quality food and lower prices. Products can be ordered in bulk, stored and DCSC can produce food on-site. Additionally, Miami University Dining is able to source from a number of vendors because of the on-site production facilities, and it is easier to focus on local food products, which makes up 26% of the food Miami University distributes.

Secondly, it is fascinating.

I am a Miami University alumnus who, honestly, never knew anything about this side of the University. Heck, I never knew there was anything behind T.J. Maxx, much less a large warehouse, temperature controlled freezers, multiple production facilities and a bakery. All the food that students, staff and faculty eat comes from DCSC in some capacity and, yet, nobody seems to know much about it.

Now, if you want to know more, you can. The Culinary Support Center runs tours through the facilities, offering guests a first-hand look at how food arrives in Oxford and then to your plate. If you are in need of a topic for a school project, or just want to know more about our food services, you can tour the facility and get any questions you have answered while you’re at it.

The Culinary Support Center offers visitors a glimpse into the level of quality and efficiency that goes into the food you eat. You can see firsthand how items come into the shipping and receiving docks and then are dispersed throughout the facility. From there, each area has specialized equipment and dedicated staff who process, organize, and prepare an incredible amount of food that is then distributed and served all over the Oxford campus.

People today want to know where their food comes from. They want to know the farm or the orchard where their food was grown and people want to have a relationship with their food providers. We want to give students the opportunity to build that relationship with us. We want to give students a behind the scenes look at how we operate and provide our services.

If you are interested in taking a tour of the Demske Culinary Support Center (DCSC), give us a call at 513-529-3040 to speak with one of our friendly staff members or reach out to the @MiamiUDining twitter account and we will gladly work out a time to conduct a tour of the facility.

Hope to see you soon!

Locally Grown: Downing Fruit Farm

Miami University’s Dining Services strive to buy locally, whenever possible, to support the community, reduce the environmental impact of long distance deliveries and provide our patrons with the freshest ingredients that Ohio has to offer. It is so important to us that 26% of the food we purchase is grown locally. Last week, we met the people behind the watermelon and red potatoes offered on campus. Now, we meet the farm behind Miami University’s apples, grown locally in New Madison, Ohio.

GRN - New Beg visit to Downings 11-11Downing Fruit Farm is located in New Madison, Ohio and is owned by Scott and Rachelle Downing. It is the oldest business in Darke County, dating back to 1838. Scott is the seventh generation of his family to run the farm, which has always raised fruits such as apples, peaches and plums. Vegetables are a relatively new development on the farm with production increasing over the last 20 years or so to nearly 25% of the farm’s income. Still, 70% of the Downing’s sales are from apples and apple products.

The Downing family has years and years of experience raising their fruits and vegetables, even developing several of their own apple varieties. One of their own creations is an apple called Downing Land, which is a cross between Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty and Pink Sugar. Pink Sugar, while delicious alone, is used for apple cider, as it is ready earlier in the season. The Downing family apple cider was once voted Best Cider in the country.

DSCN0627_1Downing is proud of the quality products he offers and believes that it is important for consumers to be educated about what is local. For Miami University, it is Downing’s apple orchards, about 40 miles or so north of Oxford.

The Downing Fruit Farm also grows peaches, plums, pears, cherries, strawberries, blackberries, melons, zucchini, sweet corn, winter squash, vinegar, apple butter, tomatoes, green beans, yellow beans, nectarines, pumpkins and Indian corn, among other items.

While Downing Fruit Farm used to sell their products exclusively from their farm, they can now be found at different farmers’ markets around the area, including Miamisburg, Centerville and Oxford. Downing sells products at five or six markets a week and enjoys winning people over with the quality and taste of his products.

Locally Grown: Wiseman Farms

Local food is an important part of Miami University’s dining services. In fact, 26% of Miami University’s Dining Services purchases are purchased locally. Incorporating local foods into our food service supports our community, reduces the environmental impact of long distance deliveries and provides our patrons with the freshest ingredients that Ohio has to offer.

Watermelon-The-Trent

In our continued effort to incorporate local food products, we are now serving locally grown watermelon and red potatoes, courtesy of Wiseman Farms, located here in Oxford, Ohio.

Wiseman Farms are several farms that are owned by the Wiseman family. Houston Wiseman grew up on a family-run farm in Estill County, Kentucky. Houston worked in Miami University Food Service for 30 years and began growing food at home in 1975. He eventually dove into farming with his wife, Linda, calling Butler County home.

Wiseman Farms now grows a number of early-season crops such as onions, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, radishes and a variety of potatoes. Wiseman also has corn, squash, cantaloupe, peaches, watermelon, pumpkins and more during the later parts of the season.

According to Wiseman, the most rewarding part of his work as a local producer is the knowledge that all of his produce is a direct result of his time and hard work. Houston’s farming efforts have been driven by a desire to offer good alternatives to the processed foods traditionally found in grocery stores.

Miami students and staff are among the numerous beneficiaries of Houston’s hard work – and little vacation time – with watermelon and red potatoes, from Wiseman Farms, being served on campus.

Red Potatoes

Now, when you find yourself enjoying those products, you can take comfort knowing that you are eating locally produced, fresh food from Wiseman Farms, located in Butler County.

Students can also find Wiseman Farms at the Talawanda Farmers Market.