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Operational Initiatives

Food & Dining

Smith College Dining Services is committed to incorporating sustainable practices in its day-to-day operations and future goals, particularly in purchasing, recycling and waste management. As a department that interacts with most of the student body on a daily basis, Dining Services works to set a good example through sustainable initiatives and promotes ongoing educational collaboration with students in the hope that they will understand and value sustainable practices when they leave Smith College.

Buy Local

In the United States, ingredients for an average meal travel 1,500 miles. Transporting foods from other states and countries means trucks or planes haul the products for hundreds or even thousands of miles. To keep food fresh in transit and on the shelf, more packaging is needed, which adds to our landfills, and trucks must be refrigerated, which uses more fuel. By the time the food reaches the table, many nutrients have been lost, and little taste remains.

Smith Dining Services strives to buy locally grown products whenever possible, providing the best dining experience for students while encouraging sustainable practices. Many local farms raise crops without heavy use of pesticides and provide a better life for livestock. Buying locally supports the local economy and helps keep small family farms in business, thus preserving openspace and some of the best soil in the world.

Several years ago, Smith Dining Services joined CISA (Community in Support of Agriculture), a national organization that supports collaboration of local farmers with local institutions and restaurants. As a member, the college helps broaden support for local farmers and increase Smith's awareness of the importance of buying locally. A few of the ways that Smith buys locally:

Dining Services lists farms and the local produce offered on a link at the Dining Services menu Web site, which is updated weekly.

Reduce

Recycling and re-using products can help undo some of the harmful processes in their manufacture, but cutting back on unnecessary waste conserves resources even more effectively.

Re-Use

We re-use a wide variety of things in dining halls and encourage students to do the same:

For five years, at Central Check-In, which opens the academic year, Dining Services has purchased and distributed to students insulated plastic mugs with lids for hot beverages or soups, as well as reusable nalgene and aluminum water bottles. Dining Services discontinued bottled water at the "Grab and Go" dining location and installed extra water spigots. We encourage students to bring their reusable water bottles to this and other dining locations to fill up.

Recycle

Composting

What started as a pilot project in 2008 with two Smith kitchens has now grown to include most dining locations. Five Smith kitchens are sending food waste to a licensed local farm where it is turned into compost and used to make more food.

Recycled Materials

Dining Services' "grab and go" locations use biodegradable flatware, napkins and containers. These products, along with biodegradable trash can liners, have also been used for the past five years at larger campus events. Dining Services purchased and distributed recyclable, "to go" tote bags the last two years for the students to use & reuse for their "grab & go" items. Dining Services eliminated the use of all "to go" paper and plasticware in their other residential dining locations and encourages students who need to take an occasional meal replacement with them to bring their own "meal-sized" container.