Green Dining at Middlebury
With Dining Services providing upwards of 7,000 meals a day, and working from a food budget of $3.9 million dollars, there is a lot of food to order. Charlie Sargent, chief purchaser for Dining Services, is committed to building relationships that support local food producers. The college’s most recent food vendor bid request emphasized Middlebury Dining’s commitment to purchasing locally produced products. In the bid letter announcement it specifically states "Middlebury College Dining Services strives to support the local economy by purchasing locally produced products and some items will be specified as such.”
Reinhart Burlington Foodservice was awarded this bid and regularly supplies the college with food products from 47 Vermont food producers.
Dining Services works directly with farmers and local produce distributors to increase the amount of local produce used in the dining halls, recognizing the potential income they can offer farmers by steering more of the College’s annual produce purchases toward local growers. They also work with the Middlebury College Organic Farm to purchase seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Locally grown and in-season fruits and vegetables, maple syrup and local dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream are regularly provided in the dining halls.
Composting & Waste Reduction
On a national average, food waste comprises upwards of 7% of the municipal solid waste stream. But not at Middlebury College. A collaborative effort between Dining Services and Facilities Management turns nearly 300 tons of food waste into rich piles of compost for use in greenhouses and gardens, and as soil amendment on campus. Food prep scraps, postconsumer food residuals, waxed cardboard, paper towels, napkins and food prep waste paper—some 70% of the College's food waste—is composted. Plate waste (post consumer food residuals) is run through a pulper to remove excess water.
Even when Dining Services moves outdoors for picnics or large College celebrations, the compost program maintains momentum. Approximately 90% of the waste generated by these large outdoor events goes directly into the College's composting system instead of the landfill. Paper plates, napkins, paper cups and biodegradable trash bag liners are all compostable. Depending on the event, Dining Services determines the feasibility of using silverware instead of plastic whenever possible. In the past the College used biodegradable utensils made from cornstarch; however, the product line was discontinued.