Dining hall hosts 150-mile meal

Williams College promotes sustainability by serving local foods to students.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.—Mission Park dining hall hosted a 150-mile sustainable food breakfast last Wednesday. The meal boasted local foods raised and grown within a 150-mile radius of the College campus. A variety of foods including Hudson Valley cage-free eggs, East Mountain Farm sausage, Nitty Gritty Flour pancakes, Ioka Farms maple syrup and many other local products, were served to 276 students.

The meal was a successful continuation of the sustainable food initiative prompted by the student groups Real Food Williams and Thursday Nights Grassroots. Begun last year as part of a “No Impact” week, 150-mile meals seek to raise awareness of local sustainable food options and promote the efforts of dining services to reach higher levels of sustainability.

The 150-mile radius is set forth from the Real Food Challenge as a distance most advantageous for promoting the local food economy and reducing the effects of large-scale transportation of produce. The College took up this challenge with the intention of promoting close food sourcing, continuing a familiar relationship with the local community and achieving high levels of sustainability. Dining services has been involved in this initiative for many years and hopes to achieve a level of 20 percent “real food” by 2020 as defined by the Real Food criteria.

Since the inception of the 150-mile meals last year, the process of creating menus and finding locally grown food has become easier with the increased experience of Dining Services, students and faculty. While it is challenging to produce a full meal with only local options during the winter, dining services has actively pursued many different venues and used creativity to create nutritious and filling meals. They have also been able to balance the economic differences that occur due to the higher costs of local products by reducing extraneous items such as the soda machines, imported cereals and store brand breads. While some students were taken aback by the lack of coffee and other usual items at Mission’s breakfast, the meal brought into question the necessity of these items.

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