This policy guides and informs all institutional food purchasing and Food Service at Northland College. Additionally, this policy describes institutional priorities as the College strives to improve sustainable dining initiatives.
- Community Based: a privately or cooperatively owned enterprise, based within a 250-mile radius of campus, grossing less than $5 million per year (produce) or $50 million per year (other food products). (Defined by REAL Food)
- Fair: individuals involved in food production work in safe and fair conditions, receive fair compensation, are ensured the right to organize and the right to a grievance process, and have equal opportunity for employment (RFC)
- Fair Trade: certified by a third-party certification agency such as Fair Trade International
- Humane: animals that have their mental, physical, and behavioral needs met in a low-stress environment and are only administered drugs for treatment of diagnosed illness or disease. Determined through third-party certification
- Hyper-local: food or beverage grown within or comprised of ingredients grown within a 50-mile radius of campus, including multi-ingredient products comprised of 50 percent or more hyper-local ingredients. (defined by NC)
- Local: food or beverage grown within or comprised of ingredients grown within a 250-mile radius of campus, including multi-ingredient products are comprised of 50 percent or more local ingredients (Defined by REAL Food)
- Organic: food or beverage certified organic by a third-party certification agency
- Real Food: food products that meet at least one of four categorical standards of the Real Food Challenge: local; ecologically-sound; humane; and fair
- Compostable: any carbon-based substance, natural or manufactured, that will decompose in a composting facility
- Food Committee: the collaborative body, comprised of faculty, staff, students, administration, and Food Service staff that oversees campus dining and food initiatives, a subcommittee of the Sustainability Work Group
- Food Service: on-campus food services in the cafeteria, and catering for the campus community
- Planetary Health Diet: a diet recommended by the EAT-Lancet report that is both healthy, does not undermine the environment, and primarily composed of plant-based food, but may include animal products
- Plant-forward: a style of cooking and eating that emphasizes and celebrates plant-based foods—including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, plant oils, and herbs and spices
- Standing Purchase Order (SPO): a purchase order with a specific farm or business where all key details of the order are known: the quantity, price, and delivery schedule.
- Top Food Allergens: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy
- Ultra-processed Foods: products made with any of the following ingredients: aspartame; butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA); butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT); caramel coloring; partially hydrogenated oil (trans-fats); potassium bromate; propyl gallate; rBGH/rBST; saccharine; sodium nitrate added; sodium nitrite added; artificial dyes: Red #3, Red #40 Yellow #5, Yellow #6
- Vegan: food not derived from or containing any ingredients derived from animal sources
- Vegetarian: food not derived from or containing any ingredients derived from animal flesh
Northland College seeks to align campus food system operations with the institutional mission, vision, and curriculum by taking into account environmental impacts, student needs, and the desire for social and environmental justice. This policy guides the adoption of a bold campus food systems model that strengthens our partnerships with local growers and businesses, and shifts food sourcing to ecologically sound, humane, and fair trade foods. The Food Procurement and Sustainable Dining policy acts as a vision and a roadmap to bolster an experiential and place-based education that deepens our campus connection to the south shore of Lake Superior, and supports our community in making sustainable food and dining choices. There is a pressing need to prepare food-literate citizens that value the inherent pleasures of eating and understand the local and global impacts of food production, so they may lead meaningful and healthy lives.
This policy is informed by the longstanding commitments made by Northland College to supporting local foods and local farmers, as well as work of the Huling’s Rice Food Center, faculty, staff and students. The goals and values are influenced by the work of the EAT Lancet Commission which promotes a plant-forward, planetary health diet, and the REAL Food Challenge which provides a framework for sustainable food procurement.
Northland College, a committed leader in higher education sustainability, will continually work to develop a robust and visionary food procurement and sustainable dining program that is healthy, inclusive, seasonal, local, and sensitive to impacts on climate and the environment.
- Procurement: We are committed to sourcing food sustainably, which is the central pillar of this policy. In addition to the longstanding commitment to hyper-local (within 50 miles) purchasing, Northland adopted the REAL Food Standards in 2019 to guide procurement for dining operations. We have committed to expanding the proportion of food served that is classified as REAL meeting at least one of four categorical standards of the Real Food Challenge: local; ecologically-sound; humane; and fair. Because one metric doesn’t capture the complexity of the food system, we will continue to use additional criteria, such as supporting community based businesses, consideration of the climate and environmental impact of our food choices, and purchasing from hyper local farmers.
- Dining Experience: We are committed to enhancing the dining experience of our students by providing healthy, nutritious food that meets the dietary needs of all students, is prepared in appealing and diverse ways. Transparent information about food that is served is another critical element of the dining experience so that students can make choices informed by health considerations and personal values.
- Waste Reduction: We are committed to reducing waste associated with campus dining and catering operations. This includes food waste reduction, composting food waste, and eliminating packaging and the use of single use disposables.
This policy applies to all contracted on-campus food services (cafeteria and catering) intended for the Northland College community
To move procurement towards the Real Food Standards Food Service will continue the longstanding Local Foods Initiative and work to increase hyper-local, local, and community-based purchases. Food Service will prioritize business relationships with current and new hyper-local, local, and community based producers, and establish seasonally appropriate menus that reflect the availability of these offerings. The ultimate goal is to increase the proportion of food purchased from hyper-local and REAL Food sources. The following categories represent the prioritization of these categories:
- Local or Community Based
- Certified Organic
- Humane / Fair Trade
- Local Foods Commitment: Northland and Food Service will uphold commitments to hyper-local food producers. Food Service will work with the Hulings Rice Food Center and hyper-local producers to annually establish pre-season Standing Purchase Orders (SPO) for both immediate use and for storage.
- Campus Gardens: Food Service will purchase all produce grown by the campus garden program at fair market value. If Food Service cannot utilize available produce while fresh, it will be processed and preserved in the Hulings Rice Food Center. The Food Center will work with Food Service to coordinate selection of produce to be grown on campus.
- In-House Preparation and Processing: Food Service and the Hulings Rice Food Center will collaborate to identify prepared foods that can be produced in-house using local and/or sustainable ingredients.
- Animal Products: Animal products produced from locally raised animals, or animals raised in compliance with third-party ethical and sustainable certifications are preferred. Northland and Food Service will encourage community members to think critically about the source and environmental impact of animal products and work to shift and replace conventional meat products with local, humane, and sustainable alternatives, decreasing the total amount of meat served and consumed.
- Seafood: Food Service should prioritize purchase of local fish, and all non-local seafood purchases will be rated “best choice” or “good alternative” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Food Service will eliminate seafood products that do not meet these standards.
- REAL Product Lists: Food Service, the Hulings Rice Food Center, and the Food Committee will work with food distributors to identify available products that meet REAL Food standards and prioritize a purchase of those products.
- Ultra-processed Foods: Ultra-processed food products should be minimized. Less processed alternatives should be identified and replace ultra-processed versions.
Dining Experience Procedures
- Health: Food Service will offer healthy and balanced meal options that meet the dietary needs of our campus community (allergies and intolerances, low-sodium, diabetic, and religious and cultural needs). The dining program will provide a diversity of balanced and complete-protein vegan and vegetarian options at every meal including non-soy plant proteins
- Ingredient Labeling: For the safety of all Food Service customers, Food Service will label top food allergens, and provide accessible nutrition information and ingredient lists.
- Sustainability Labeling: Food Service will label REAL foods: local, organic, fair trade, and humane.
- Cost-Saving Measures: Northland and Food Service shall develop and implement creative cost-saving measures wherever possible. Such strategies may include bulk food purchases, generic and unbranded foods, whole and minimally processed ingredients, in-house processing, serving fewer options, waste reduction measures, and meat reduction.
Waste Reduction Procedures
*Public health recommendations during the COVID-19 Pandemic may require deviations from these procedures, but decision makers will make every effort to creatively adopt environmentally-friendly practices that meet public health guidelines.
- Composting: Food Service will compost pre- and post-consumer waste at all service locations. Designated compost collection vessels will be present at all service locations and catering events.
- Trayless Dining: Food Service will not utilize dining trays in the dining program in order to reduce dining waste and serving sizes. Exceptions will be made as needed for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Food Waste Reduction: Food Service will implement food waste reduction strategies.
- Food Recovery Network: Food Service will collaborate with the Food Recovery Network to facilitate the recovery of edible leftovers for distribution to those in the community and campus who experience food insecurity.
- Single-Use Disposables: Food Service will not purchase or use polystyrene or petroleum-based plastic disposables (i.e. cutlery, straws, etc). Reusable dining and packaging materials for Food Service and catering are always preferred. If a service or dining event requires the use of non-reusable materials, certified compostable products will be used.
- Plastic Bottles: Beverages in single use plastic bottles will not be served at catering events.
Reporting and Accountability
- Purchasing Data: Food Service will regularly provide food purchasing data to the Food Center in order to calculate the REAL Food percentage and hyper-local percentage.
- Annual Report: An annual report prepared in cooperation with the Food Center will be presented to the Food Committee and Sustainability Work Group, outlining progress towards implementation of this policy, and the REAL Food and hyper-local purchasing percentages.
- Regular Updates: Food Service will provide monthly updates to the Food Committee detailing changes to procurement practices to meet the REAL Food Standards or other elements of this policy.
- Collaboration: Food Service will regularly attend Food Committee meetings and collaborate with the Food Committee and Hulings Rice Food Center to adopt new practices in line with this policy. Necessary procurement, service, and operational changes will occur in a reasonable timeline to ensure the implementation of this policy
- Food Committee: The Food Committee will continuously review progress towards implementing the procedures and meeting the goals of this policy, and will recommend changes to this policy to the Sustainability Workgroup.