We Are What We Eat
Green Mountain College is home to one of the most innovative dining halls in the country in regards to local foods purchasing and sourcing products directly from our own Cerridwen Farm. GMC’s Sustainable Purchasing Initiative is a program that partners our dining hall food service company and fabulous chefs with faculty, farm staff and students to work within the dining hall’s budget to source more of their food locally and from our farm.
As of 2015, 31.7% of the food purchased for the dining hall is local and community-based and/or third-party verified to be ecologically sound, fair, and/or humane, following the Sustainability Tracking, Rating, and Assessment System (STARS) as developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Some of these local sources include Champlain Orchards, Vermont Roots, Thomas Dairy, Black River Produce, Green Mountain Coffee Company, Koffee Kup Bakery, Sid Wainer & Son Specialty Foods, and of course our own on-campus Cerridwen Farm. We have even been awarded a Gold Medal rating for our rigorous efforts in sustainable and local foods purchasing and recordkeeping. Go, team!
GMC as a Model for Sustainability
Our goal in growing GMC’s Sustainable Purchasing Initiative is to serve as 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.
“Green Mountain College offers vegetarian and vegan food choices at every meal. At breakfast, lunch, and dinner Chartwells offers protein-rich vegetarian and vegan options as well as non-vegetarian options. ”
Chartwells Dining Services has agreed to use our campus dining hall as a beta testing site for innovative local food purchasing strategies. Our food service director, Chef 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 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.
The Buttery. In the Buttery, located next to the dining hall, Chartwell’s offers casual fare including sandwiches, burgers and daily specials.
The Coffee House. More than THE spot for live music, great coffee and sizzling grilled cheese, The Coffee House in the basement of Moses is a student-run business that gives students hands-on experience with entrepreneurship, marketing and events planning. Feed your need for caffeine while enjoying art, poetry readings, open mic, acoustic jams and some of your favorite campus bands.
The Withey Dining Hall. In the beautiful Withey Hall, our food service is provided by Chartwell’s Dining Service, lead by our head chef and friend Dave Ondria. Chartwell’s provides the college community with a variety of meal options, including commuter and employee plans.