Developing a Local Food Program at the College Level: Lessons from Farm-to-College Programs in the USA
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As the modern-day food system becomes increasingly industrialized on a global scale, the negative consequences for both human health and the environment are accelerating. Advocates for local production and distribution, leading to healthier consumption patterns, are increasingly vocal as the benefits of more sustainable food systems are acknowledged. Large public and private organizations, including local governments, NGOs, and educational systems are at the forefront of this sustainable food trend. In the US, the number of universities implementing sustainable food programs is growing rapidly, creating a new food services concept known as the “farm-to-college” movement. In Scotland, sustainable dining programs in large institutions are beginning to emerge. The University of Edinburgh will be the first university in Scotland to implement the Food for Life program as it hopes to achieve the Soil Association’s Bronze Catering Mark, a program with many features mirroring US farm-to-college schemes. In an attempt to better inform future dining programs that launch local, sustainable initiatives, such as the University of Edinburgh, this study examines a number of U.S. universities farm-to-college programs. The research evaluates the following for each program: motivations, goals, common barriers, best practice strategies, and evaluation and education programs. In-depth semi-structured interviews were held with leaders experienced in all phases of designing and implementing a diverse set of US universities.