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Food and Dining

Students and dining staff.

We have a long history of providing healthy, delicious, sustainable, and culturally-relevant food for students. See the food-related initiatives and projects students, faculty, and staff are involved in on campus! Visit Dining Services’ commitments to sustainability to learn more.

Recent Actions in Food and Dining

The Real Food Challenge

Graph showing impact of Real Food Challenge. Contents described below.

On October 21, 2016, Smith signed onto the Real Food Challenge, a national initiative with goals that include promoting sustainable agriculture, fair labor practices and humane treatment of animals. Pledging that by 2020, 20 percent of the food provided on campus would meet the Real Food Challenge standards, Smith fulfilled its promise in less than a year. As of 2021 we have achieved 26% Real Food.

Learn how Lily Carlisle Reske '17 learned about and advocated for food justice.

Local Farms

We’ve been supporting local and small farms for decades! For example, we’ve sourced produce from Outlook Farms in Westhampton, MA for over 50 years! Learn more about our other local producers here.

Plant-based Foods

Smith has recently begun reporting on its plant-based food purchasing for AASHE STARS. In FY 2019, 47% of our purchases were plant-based. Plant-based foods are those composed primarily of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and culinary ingredients or are a vegetarian/vegan alternative to meat or dairy. Ultra-processed foods do not qualify as plant-based. Students have been our best advocates for more plant-based foods in the dining halls and continue to help us research how to educate our community on the benefits of eating plant-based.

In 2020, students in the Environmental Science and Policy capstone course analyzed current purchasing practices in beef and dairy milk — two of the highest GHG-emitting food categories both at Smith and globally -  giving Smith Dining the resources to run rough emissions and cost analyses for different substitution scenarios that help to decrease emissions.

Reducing Smith College’s Dining GHG emissions: An analysis of beef and milk substitutions

Whole Animal Whole Region

In October 2018, Smith, along with several other partner institutions, received a grant from Henry P. Kendall Foundation that helps local farmers by creating a market for whole animals to be sold to consistent consumers instead of only the sirloin and tenderloin cuts. Smith made a commitment to purchase whole beef and pork from farmers in New England. As of 2020, we are sourcing half of all the meat served in dining halls from 17 local farms with antibiotic free, grass and non-gmo grain fed animals. We have purchased over 400 whole animals to date. In the next few years, we expect to source 100% of all meat from local farms. Student advocacy and involvement has been and will continue to be a large part of ensuring that we reduce our carbon-footprint associated with meat consumption and source more sustainability.

Year on Climate Change “Global Flavors” Event

At the 2019 opening conference for the Year on Climate Change, students from around the world worked with Dining Services to prepare family recipes from their home region but with local New England ingredients. This project opened up an opportunity for our diverse student population to create and share their cherished recipes with the greater community; it also opened up an opportunity to showcase local New England foods to the greater community as well. Two students, Rosie Li ‘20 and Micaela Gonzalez ‘21 created and executed the program. 


Student Profile

Micaela Gonzalez

In fall 2019, I helped organize “Sustainable Reimaginings of Global Flavors” for the opening reception of the Smith Year on Climate Change conference. Students submitted recipes and worked with chefs on campus to reinvent their special dish using sustainably sourced local ingredients. The event was an opportunity for students with ties to different parts of the world to reconnect with important culinary traditions from a creative and sustainable perspective. Recipes included picadas using masa from Mi Tierra restaurant and a remake of traditional conch fritters with local clams. I am inspired by the possibilities that shifting our relationship to land and food makes possible.

Micaela Gonzalez

Grab & Go 2.0

Since 2017, Smith Dining has been tray and container-less; we use a Grab and Go system with reusable meal containers for take-out dining. To start, a student gives their free token to a dining hall staff member, then gets a container in return. Students can fill the sanitized containers with food directly from the buffet and, when done eating, deposit the used containers in vending machines in the Campus Center, Tyler House, and Scales House to receive a token for next time. This system keeps tons of waste out of the landfill stream!

Read more in an assessment of the program by student Meghan Suslovic titled Grab & Go 2.0: Assessing the Effectiveness of a New Waste Reduction Program.