Local and Sustainable Purchases

Mount Holyoke College Dining is committed to increasing its purchasing of local and ecologically-sound foods. We are in regular contact with local farmers and with vendors about our purchasing plans. We are working to increase our purchasing from local farms, procure more sustainable foods from vendors, and inform the Mount Holyoke community about local & sustainable food options.

Photo of produce in a basket


With the help of our main produce distributor, FreshPoint in Hartford, CT, we are able to identify local produce purchases. We also purchase directly from several farmers. Menu items with locally grown ingredients are labelled with our  “locally grown” menu item signs.

Logos for Fair Trade, USDA Organic and Rainforeset Alliance Certified

Third-Party Certified

We also source a number of products with third-party certifications to increase the sustainability and responsibility of products that we cannot source locally.

Our coffees & teas are all Certified FairTrade or Rainforest Alliance Certified. We purchase a number of other products, including soymilk, noodles, granola, and cereal, that are Certified USDA Organic.

Chart displaying the growth in sustainabile food purchases since 2016

Our Progress

Over the past three fiscal years, which run July 1 – June 30, Mount Holyoke has increased its percentage of sustainable purchases from roughly 9% in FY16 to just over 13% in FY18, which just ended this past June. If we continue on this same trajectory, we will achieve our goal of purchasing 20% sustainable food by the year 2020.

This chart displays Dining Services sustainable purchases both in dollar (blue bars) and percentage of total purchasing (orange line) from FY16 (7/1/15 – 6/30/16) to FY18 (7/1/17 – 6/30/18), along with projections for FY19 and FY20.

Mount Holyoke Dining Services defines “sustainable purchases” as products that were locally grown or certified sustainable. “Locally grown” products are defined as products that were either grown or contain at least 51% ingredients that were grown in New England or within a 250 mile radius of campus, except for meats which are allowed a 500 mile radius. “Certified sustainable” products are defined as products that are certified by one of a list of verified and trustworthy third-party certifiers, such as USDA Organic, Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and so on. Mount Holyoke Dining Services only accepts the sustainable certifications denoted in the Real Food Challenge Standards.

Current Purchases

This map outlines the products we are currently sourcing from local and ecologically-sound operations.

USDA Organic Products

What does Certified Organic mean?

In short, a product that is certified organic contains no antibiotics or growth hormones, genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or conventional pesticides and fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge. Operations certified by the USDA are regularly inspected to be sure that they adhere to these standards. For more information visit the USDA Organic website.

USDA Certified Organic products purchased by MHC

  • Envirokidz: Cereal
  • Equal Exchange: Fair Trade Tea & Coffee
  • Grandy Oats: Granola
  • Hakubaku: Udon and Soba Noodles
  • Jonathan’s Sprouts: Alfalfa Sprouts and Bean Sprouts
  • Old Friends Farm: Produce
  • Pierce Brothers: Fair Trade Coffee & Hot Cocoa
  • Premium Gold: Flaxseed Meal
  • Red Fire Farm: Produce
  • Rice Dream: Rice Milk
  • Rolling Hills: Soy Milk
  • Robert’s Vegetables: Cilantro
  • Queen's Greens: Produce
  • Sunbutter: Sunflower Seed Butter
  • Winter Moon Roots: Root Vegetables

Local Farmer Features

In addition to including locally-grown produce in regular operations, Mount Holyoke puts on events throughout the year to highlight local farmers and purchases.

Farmer Guest Events

During the academic year, Dining Services welcomes local farmers and producers into the Community Dining Center for a series of special events. During these events, local farmers and business-owners have an opportunity to set up a display table and have an informal meet-and-greet with students, faculty, staff, and any community members that walk through the CDC. During the Spring of 2017, Dining Services welcomed farmers such as Danya Teitelbaum from Queen’s Greens, Willie Crosby from Fungi Ally, Bruce Jenks from Maple Valley Creamery, and many more.

Massachusetts Farm to School Week

During Massachusetts Farm to School Week, we host local farmers in Blanchard Campus Center to show their products and speak with students.

Gracious Dinners

Gracious Dinners feature locally-sourced produce and ingredients. Each year, we start this with a Fall Harvest Gracious Dinner during Massachusetts Farm to College Week at the end of September. We also feature locally-grown and sustainable menus on the Saturday of Family & Friend weekend, near Thanksgiving, and for Exam M&C’s hot breakfast.