Colleges and universities are changing how they purchase and prepare food in their dining halls to provide students healthy, sustainable meal options, with many of them working to source food locally. American University, in Washington, D.C., purchases more than a third of the food served in its cafeterias within 250 miles of its campus.
McGill University, in Montreal, spends 47 percent of its food budget on produce from its own campus farm and growers within 300 miles. Middlebury College, in Vermont, partners with seasonal local vendors, including those operating its own organic farm.
Taking it a step further, Boston University cafeterias serve meal options that include organic, fair trade, free-range, vegetarian-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free, sustainably harvested food items to students. Cornell University composts about 850 tons of food waste from its dining halls each year. At Duke University, surplus food is donated to food banks, and both pre- and post-consumer scraps are composted.
Other steps include the University of California, Berkeley’s new Global Food Initiative to address food security in a way that’s both nutritious and sustainable, and efforts at the University of Illinois to recycle cooking oil for biodiesel production.