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Dining Hall Initiatives

Sustainability in GMC’s Dining Hall
When it comes to local food purchasing and sourcing products directly from our own Cerridwen Farm, Green Mountain College is home to one of the most innovative dining halls in the country. GMC’s Sustainable Purchasing Initiative is a program that partners our dining hall food service company, Chartwells, with faculty, farm staff, and students to work within the dining hall’s budget to source more of their food locally.

As of 2014, 36.9% of our dining hall’s food and beverage expenditures are local and community-based. We follow the Sustainability Tracking, Rating, and Assessment System (STARS) as developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Green Mountain College has been awarded a Medal rating for its rigorous efforts in sustainable and local foods purchasing and recordkeeping.

2009-2010 Academic Year Sustainable Purchasing Numbers
In the 2009-10 academic year the Green Mountain College dining hall allocated $168,883 of its total food budget on products sourced from distributors within 250 miles and third-party certified products (organic, fair trade, etc.) that are sourced from distributors farther than 250 miles. Some of these local sources include Champlain Orchards, Vermont Roots, Thomas Dairy, Black River Produce, Green Mountain Coffee Company, Koffee Kup Bakery, and Sid Wainer & Son Specialty Foods. The GMC dining hall also purchased $6,425 worth of products from our own on-campus farm, Cerridwen Farm. These products included seasonal vegetables, fresh eggs, and pasture-raised pork.

GMC as a Model for Sustainability
Our goal in growing GMC’s Sustainable Purchasing Initiative is to produce a model that other schools and colleges across the country can emulate and build from. By demonstrating how effectively a college dining hall can control its local purchasing, especially by working with its food service company, we hope to lay the groundwork for future Farm-to-School-initiatives. Chartwells Dining Services, Green Mountain College’s food service company, has agreed to use our campus dining hall as a beta testing site for innovative local food purchasing strategies. Our food service director, Dave Ondria, has been given an unprecedented level of freedom to re-imagine a creative local foods purchasing program that still operates within the Chartwells corporate budget. Since most colleges and universities also rely on food service companies, Green Mountain College’s model is demonstrating the feasibility of sustainable foods purchasing that can be reproduced and improved upon anywhere in the country.

GMC’s Dining Hall and Campus Involvement
Green Mountain College strives to integrate its everyday curriculum with its efforts in strengthening local and sustainable food systems. Students, college faculty, Cerridwen Farm staff, and dining hall staff come together to create a variety of programs designed to increase student engagement and improve the college’s capacity for integrating sustainable foods with real-world solutions. Some of these past programs have included:

  • The Center of the Plate Club, a student club partnered with the dining hall that processed Cerridwen Farm products in order for the dining hall to more easily integrate farm products into its menu
  • SFS 2000 02: Animal Proteins, a special topics 3-credit course in which students worked with Dave Ondria, GMC’s food service director, to learn about meat preparation and cooking techniques in a professional kitchen setting
  • Local Flavors Iron Chef Competition, a special dining hall event that invited students from the Culinary Institute of America to participate alongside GMC students in a cooking competition featuring local ingredients such as duck, beef, and apples
  • Student Workshops in which groups of students learn how to prepare recipes and work alongside dining hall staff to create final products that will be served in the dining hall. Past products have included sausage using Cerridwen Farm pork; salsa made from local tomatoes; mayonnaise to be served at the dining hall’s salad bar; and processing Cerridwen Farm beef.

Through the Sustainable Purchasing Initiative and other local food-related programs, Green Mountain College is setting a national standard for excellence in sustainable food purchasing, student involvement, and campus dining hall innovation. Check out upcoming events at Green Mountain College’s dining hall here.

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