By Peter Allison, Network Director

Posted October 11, 2017

News

Campus FoodShift is Underway & Poised to Get More Local Food on College Menus

FINE Initiative Designed to Make Local Food Sourcing the Norm for New England Higher Ed

The Farm to Institution New England (FINE) team is thrilled to announce the launch of Campus FoodShift, an innovative new initiative that has been developed to create change one institution at a time. Through Campus FoodShift, FINE and partners will provide support to a limited number of campuses each year, helping them to (1) increase the amount of local food they procure, (2) build informed and active campus communities committed to strong local food programs, and (3) participate in a vibrant, region-wide cohort of other campuses committed to building strong local food programs.

The program was originally introduced in April 2017 at the New England Farm to Institution Summit. Campus FoodShift is a complement to FINE's New England Farm & Sea to Campus Network, which was created to increase transparency in the regional supply chain and educate campus communities about the food system. These elements of our Farm & Sea to Campus Program combine to transform New England campus food culture and operations over the next five to ten years.

We are selecting two campuses to pilot our approach, enabling us to learn from the process of engaging directly with campuses to support our plans for phase two.

The first campus we selected is Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire. This private liberal arts and sciences college of approximately 1,000 students in rural New Hampshire has a strong commitment to sustainability in their operations, a track record of sourcing local products (see FINE's 2014 case study on CSC), and faculty and courses focused on food systems. Colby-Sawyer College’s new president, Susan D. Stuebner, has expressed her strong support for engagement in Campus FoodShift, and the new food service management company Parkhurst has experience sourcing local in other regions. FINE plans to engage campus partners in a process to set long and short-term goals, source more local products, assist with menu planning as needed, and support student projects that are setting recommendations for the campus.

FINE is in the process of identifying our second pilot campus and we will update you when that decision is finalized. Other next steps include identifying the types of assistance that campuses will need to make their “shift,” which could include: planning, research, coordination, sourcing assistance, training, and communications. Additionally, we are working to set criteria and the process for selection of campuses for phase two of Campus FoodShift, which is scheduled to kick off in spring 2018. Most likely, we will create an application process that helps us identify the campuses that will be the best fit for added assistance at this stage of their development.

FINE’s role in this initiative is to create and support the container for this work in New England. We will bring strategic partners to the table to guide the work and amplify their unique contributions to the common agenda; increase understanding and map the current practices, challenges and opportunities related to these objectives at New England campuses; and identify and test models of intervention on campuses to inform the strategy for partners in the region moving forward. Campuses involved in the initiative will join a Campus FoodShift cohort, providing advice and information to each other over the coming years.

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation, The John Merck Fund, and The Whitehead Foundation have provided critical funding for phase one of the Campus FoodShift initiative. We have created a Campus FoodShift advisory committee comprised of experienced leaders in the field: Jen White at Colby-Sawyer College, John Turenne at Sustainable Food Systems, Mike Webster at the Hotchkiss School, Chris Howland at UMass Amherst Auxiliary Services, and Laura Edwards-Orr at Red Tomato. The project is supported by FINE staff members Peter Allison and Dana Stevens.

Interested in learning more or getting involved? Contact Peter Allison at [email protected].

Photos by Richard Howard, courtesy of The Henry P. Kendall Foundation.