Buying local food makes sense: we can support the local economy, decrease emissions related to processing and transporting food from farther away, and the educational opportunities surrounding our local food economy are many. Dining Services Director Sandy Donahue and Assistant Manager Lorey Duprey have made a great effort to source products from northern New England when possible. Some of that food comes from companies like Cape Cod Potato Chips in Massachusetts and Cabot Dairy in Vermont. Some of it includes produce and value-added products from Maine producers through Crown O’ Maine Organic Cooperative and Performance Food Group. And some produce is sourced from vegetable growers in Unity and surrounding towns, including our own campus gardens.
AASHE’s STARS program, which we’re using to assess sustainability efforts on campus, awards points for their “Food Purchasing” credit based on the percentage of food dollars spent on items “[g]rown and processed within 250 miles of the institution” — that’s grown AND processed. Our dining services food sourcing efforts represented in this map fall almost entirely within that 250-mile radius. We’ll have to do a little homework in the coming months to determine whether those vendors satisfy the STARS credit criteria fully.
During the ’09-’10 school year, 27% of Unity’s institutional food dollars went to these producers in New England. Huge thanks to Cassidy Need, the Garden and Campus Food work-study student in our office, for putting together this map.