Dubuque Eats Well - Miles Breed

Face of a Food Champion: Miles Breed

When Miles Breed became the Director of Dining Services at Clarke University in Dubuque a little over two years ago, one of the first things he did was go to the farmers market to meet the vendors. His goal was to form relationships with farmers so he might increase the use of local foods in the meals served to students.

Breed and Neese
At the Driftless Farm-to-Table dinner, Breed and Neese contributed the third course, bison and vegetables. Photo contributed by Ron and Jennifer Tigges, Digital Dubuque.

Clarke University’s Dining Services is distinctive in that it is self-operated. This gives Breed and the Executive Chef, Steve Neese, more flexibility. “We have the freedom to make our food more flavorful and more personalized to the students,” Breed elaborates. Such freedom has allowed him to choose from whom he will buy food, and he prefers to buy from local farmers when possible.

Breed sees several benefits of using local foods. First, the food is fresh. Clarke buys apples from Buffalo Ridge Orchards in Central City. “When you bite into one of their apples you can taste the difference,” Breed says. “It’s tangible.” Additionally, Breed says he feels a responsibility to support the local economy.

Students appreciate that the dining hall serves local foods because it contributes to a sustainable food system. In addition, students can get involved in producing vegetables for Dining Services through a campus garden internship program that involves two students each summer.

The garden also increases the visibility of local food on campus. The dining hall overlooks the garden, so students can see where some of their food is coming from. This year the student garden adjusted what they planted so that more of what they produce would be available during the school year. By planting more pumpkins and squash, more produce is ready to harvest in the fall after students return from summer break.

Dining Services uses local produce more so than other types of food but also sources milk and yogurt locally. Breed buys most produce from three farmers and reaches out to others for special events. For example, for the past two years he and his staff have celebrated World Food Day by preparing a local foods lunch and hosting a farmers market in the main dining hall. “Whomever we purchased foods from for that meal is invited to the dining hall, and they set up a stand and sell their goods. It helps increase awareness of the local farmers market to students,” says Breed.

In September 2014, Dining Services participated in the Farm-to-Table Dinner, which was held in conjunction with the Driftless Farm Crawl, both organized by Dubuque Eats Well. For the Farm Crawl, several farms held open houses on a Saturday. The dinner was the next evening at Four Mounds Inn Bed and Breakfast. Clarke University Dining Services prepared the main entrée, and three other businesses—The Food Store, Life’s a Feast and L.May Eatery—each contributed a course to the meal.

About this story

This story was produced to accompany a report documenting the impact of the local food industry on Iowa’s economy associated with the efforts of the Regional Food Systems Working Group. Consult the statewide report: 2013 Economic Impacts of Iowa’s Regional Food Systems Working Group.

For more information on the local foods work occurring in the Dubuque region, visit the Dubuque Eats Well website or contact ISUE Local Foods Coordinataor Carolyn Scherf (email cscherf@iastate.edu, phone 563-583-6496, ext. 12).