MISSOULA – University Dining Services at the University of Montana recently received a gold medal in the 2013 Sustainability Awards from the National Association of College and University Food Services.
The award honors UDS for exemplary work in sustainable procurement practices through the UM Farm to College Program, led by UDS Director of Sustainability and Procurement Ian Finch.
The annual award recognizes member institutions that demonstrate outstanding leadership in the promotion and implementation of environmental sustainability. It also recognizes the critical role that dining services plays in reaching the overall sustainability goals on campus and the unique challenge of providing exceptional guest service and generating revenue while minimizing environmental impact.
UDS received the top award for the Farm to College Program’s innovative procurement practices that benefit the triple bottom line of sustainability – people, planet and profit – through local food purchasing and a prioritization of sustainably produced goods.
These efforts have resulted in 31 percent of the UDS food purchases, or more $1.14 million, redirected to 120 local farmers, ranchers and small businesses, in addition to a smaller portion going to products that are produced sustainably outside Montana.
UDS also pioneered hyper-local programs grow seasonal produce in on-campus gardens with a year-round growing program that uses a passive-solar composting greenhouse and an indoor aquaponics growing system within the campus dining hall, the Food Zoo.
UDS also was recognized for creating systems that increased demand for local procurement through a central commissary where local foods are bulk purchased, processed and stored, as well as the creation of the 406 Grill, a local-foods hamburger restaurant in the University Center.
More information on the Farm to College Program is available online at http://life.umt.edu/dining/sustainability/FTC_2013_onward.php.