Good food. Good grades.

Steve Golob knows what his clients want: Fast, nutritious, local, sustainable, internationally diverse comfort foods. Feeding students in residence dining rooms is a worthy challenge for his talents.

“Healthy stomachs lead to healthy minds and healthy marks,” says Golob, residence chef at UBC’s Place Vanier dining hall, which serves about 3,000 meals to students daily.

Golob wants students to think about the food they eat. Healthy foods keep students alert in class, help fight off illness and are important for maintaining a positive outlook on life.

To draw attention to that essential connection, UBC Food Services will be hosting an event during Thrive, UBC’s annual mental health awareness week, to present healthy food options and explain how food can impact mental wellbeing.

Golob is quick to point out that students want to eat healthy too­—the salad bar and the stir-fry station are Vanier’s two busiest spots. And there is a big emphasis on everything local.

“Is it local and is it fresh? This is it what we’ve been hearing for the past few years—at UBC, from our colleagues at other schools, from hospitals, hotels, everywhere,” he explains.

Last year, UBC Food Services purchased about $10,000 of produce from the UBC Farm—a figure they are on track to surpass this year. In total,  50 per cent of UBC Food Services food is grown, processed or produced within 150 miles of the campus.

“We’re located right next to the UBC Farm, it would be criminal not to use their fresh produce.”

Six years ago, none of the farm’s produce was used by UBC Food Services. Golob has been a big part of this transformation, working with the Faculty of Land and Food Systems (LFS) and professor Alejandro Rojas and making it a priority to source local food, from the Farm and other producers.

Today, UBC is recognized as a leader in this area. It was the first university in British Columbia to join the Farm to Cafeteria initiative, a network that brings healthy, sustainable and local food to schools, universities and hospitals.

Now Golob and LFS students are spreading the message to the community. They frequently work with schools in B.C. to help kids and teachers discover the healthy meals that can be made with local ingredients through the Think&Eat Green @School project. Golob also teaches kids cooking skills using only healthy recipes with the Sprouting Chefs program.

And that’s not all. Golob is about to start his own CiTR show to get folks thinking about where their food comes from. His soup creations—made with local and in season vegetables—are posted daily to the SoupScoop blog, run by one of his biggest fans.

There’s no hiding Golob’s passion. “UBC is a living lab. It is our job to figure out how to do this right and then to educate our students and the community.”

To check out some of Golob’s creations, visit: soupscoop.wordpress.com/

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