Sustainable Food Purchasing

In 2012, Dining Services committed to purchasing 20% sustainable foods by 2020. The criteria we use to define “sustainable” are:

  • Local: Food that is grown or processed within 250 miles of College Park. That could mean mushrooms from Pennsylvania, peaches from Delaware, or bread from a Baltimore bakery.
  • Fair: Fair Trade certification ensures that people who grow or produce food have safe working conditions, a living wage, the right to organize, and the right to a grievance process. Common Fair Trade products include coffee, chocolate, and bananas.
  • Humane: Humanely raised animals live in low-stress environments and do not experience suffering. Humanely raised animals are also fed good-quality food and are not given growth hormones or non-therapeutic antibiotics.
  • Ecologically Sound: Ecologically sound food is grown or produced in ways that put environmental stewardship at the forefront, conserving both biodiversity and natural resources.

Not every food item can fall into all of these categories (for instance, bananas don’t grow in Maryland, so they will never be Local but they can be Fair and Ecologically Sound), but as part of the Sustainable Food Commitment, Dining Services looks for options that fall into at least one of these categories.

In Fall 2014, Dining Services achieved 20% sustainable food purchasing:

20 percent food

Most of the food that makes up this 20% is locally processed. For the next five years, we will continue to expand our sustainable food offerings by focusing on the other three criteria, to provide a more diverse spread of sustainable foods.

The Sustainable Food Commitment was originally set by the Sustainable Food Working Group, a group of students, faculty, and staff dedicated to promoting active participation and collaboration across campus in pursuit of a more sustainable food system at the University of Maryland. The Sustainable Food Working Group has since been re-envisioned as the Sustainable Food Committee, which meets each semester to review progress towards sustainable food goals and share ideas for future actions.