Attention all fans of fresh produce! On June 1st, Caltech Dining Services (CDS) hosted their first ever Pop-Up Farmers Market in the Little Browne Dining Room! Featured among the usual fruits and vegetables were Persian cucumbers, roasted yams, nectarines, and cherries. Many students lined up from 3-5 pm that day for their own tray of 2 fruits and 2 vegetables. Most opted for a cup of highly sought-after berries (both strawberries and blueberries were available), in addition to a cucumber or some baby carrots.
According to Jaime Reyes, Director of Dining Services, this pop-up idea had been in the making for several years. “This is stuff that we wanted to do before COVID,” he says, “but now we’re able to do these fun pop-up’s!” The farmers market is just one of the many things CDS has introduced recently in hopes of providing more fun and liveliness to the on-campus dining experience; they have started doing Boba Labs on the weekend in addition to the self-serve Mongolian and salad bar Browne stations. This was also in response to increased student interest in fresh produce (especially berries).
Sophie Polidoro (ME ‘25, Avery) was first in line at the farmers market to check it out. “I think it’s a nice way to get produce because it can be expensive to go buy it and because there [was] a shortage of produce on campus,” she remarked. Although pop-up farmers markets are not a substitute for daily access to fresh fruits and vegetables, they are a great way for students to get a healthy snack for the day without spending a lot of time or money. It is also a nice way for CDS staff to introduce new foods to the students in a low stakes environment! For instance, Frances Yokota, CDS General Manager, took inspiration from Japanese street markets and decided to offer roasted yams at the farmers market. Many students including myself were pleasantly surprised by the starch’s addition to the selection, and it is certainly delightful that CDS staff have the chance to incorporate different cultures into fun events like these. “My whole goal since becoming director is to make sure our students are connected with our staff,” Jaime added. “Like with the pop up dinners or this event, the staff get to know people, and you guys get to talk to us in case you have any questions.”
It seems like CDS is not stopping here and has some more surprises and experiments ready for the summer and fall, so keep an eye out for announcements from Caltech Dining! And keep giving the Food Committee feedback on these new changes and pop-up’s at bit.ly/caltechfoodfeedback!