UM Dining Recognized for Supporting Higher Animal Welfare Standards

January 31, 2019

UM Dining received recognition from Farm Forward for its commitment to sustainable food products, including cage-free eggs.MISSOULA – The University of Montana is receiving recognition for its commitment to supporting better animal welfare standards in the food industry by purchasing Certified Humane cage-free eggs for all of its operations.

The nonprofit organization Farm Forward, which promotes higher animal welfare practices in the food industry, recognized UM Dining with an invitation to join its Leadership Circle. Leadership Circle members are chosen for their commitment to sourcing 100 percent higher-welfare animal products in at least one major food category. 

UM Dining has a long-standing commitment to purchasing sustainable food products, and has been buying cage-free eggs from Wilcox farms for several years.

“The relationship with Wilcox is really important to us,” said Trevor Lowell, UM Dining director of sustainability. “Not only are they a family-owned business that is leading the industry on sustainable practices, they source a large number of their eggs from farms in the Great Falls area.”

In order to carry the Certified Humane label, businesses must adhere to strict production standards that ensure safer and more humane treatment of their animals. Standards are enforced by independent third-party audits. UM Dining purchases over 30,000 pounds of Certified Humane eggs each year. Farm Forward calculates that by sourcing Certified Humane eggs, UM Dining ensures better lives for more than 1,000 hens.

Cage-free eggs are just one part of UM Dining’s larger sustainable purchasing strategy, which includes Montana grass-finished beef and a focus on local producers. The department’s Farm to College program has supported Montana farmers and ranchers since 2003. In the 16 years since the program began, UM Dining has spent over $10 million on Montana agricultural products.

“We work hard to provide excellent food that is both good for our guests and good for the Earth,” said Camp Howard, director of UM Dining. “Rewarding better agricultural practices, supporting local farmers and ranchers, educating our guests about issues that affect the food system: These are all part of our broader sustainability strategy.”

The mission of the Leadership Circle is to leverage the buying power of universities, businesses and restaurants to change the way animals are raised for food. Other members include businesses like Airbnb and Dr. Bronner’s, and universities, including the University of California, Berkeley, and Villanova.

“Leadership Circle institutions exemplify values-based food purchasing,” says Andrew DeCoriolis, executive director of Farm Forward. “Through thoughtful procurement policies, universities like the University of Montana improve the welfare of farmed animals while meeting their students’ demands for more ethical and sustainable food.” 

For more information about UM Dining’s sustainable business practices, visit http://www.justeatsMT.com.

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Contact: Trevor Lowell, UM Dining director of sustainability, 406-243-4042, trevor.lowell@mso.umt.edu.