A close-up of new leaves on a tree.

Sustainability is an integral part of how we teach, work, and play at Middlebury, and we are committed to pushing those boundaries as far as we can go in many ways.

300 tons of food composted each year
99% pre-consumer food waste composted
32% annual food budget spent locally

Compost and Waste Reduction

On a national average, food waste comprises upwards of 7% of the municipal solid waste stream. Middlebury College Dining Services strives to reduce this number.

Through collaboration with Facilities Management, Dining composts nearly 300 tons of food waste every year that is then turned into compost for use in campus greenhouses, gardens and soil amendment. Approximately 99% of pre-consumer food waste—food prep scraps, packaging, trim, paper towels and cardboard—are composted, as well as post-consumer food residuals, plate waste and napkins. Plate waste is also run through a pulper to remove excess water.

During outdoor picnics and celebrations, Dining utilizes compostable plates, napkins, paper cups, and biodegradable trash bag liners. Whenever possible, Dining will substitute plastic utensils with biodegradable cornstarch utensils or silverware.

Reusable Container Program

Students who would like to participate should visit MiddExpress and put down a deposit of $5.00 for a Middlebury Dining carabiner. Dining Services will accept cash, credit card, or declining balance for this deposit. If a student needs multiple carabiners, they can buy as many as they would like with a $5.00 deposit for each one. Only one container is allowed out of the Dining Hall per meal period. This dining hall offers unlimited buffet choices, so a student may enjoy as much food as they want while in the dining hall. 

There may be times where a student may miss a meal and we offer a reusable container to address that, but we are not a store and there are limits on what can be taken. 

Only one reusable container per meal period. No other to-go container is permitted due to health regulations. A student may also leave the dining hall with a baked good, sandwich, hand fruit, dessert, or beverage. No silverware, plates or bowls, glass or mug can leave the dining hall. 

Take that carabiner to Proctor, Ross, or Atwater and exchange it for a reusable to-go container. Students may use the container for food to-go.

Students should rinse the container, then exchange it at the checker stand of any dining hall for either a clean container or another carabiner token. Containers are washed in Dining Service’s industrial dish rooms.

Students may repeat this process for as long as they wish to use the to-go program. 

To receive their deposit back, students can return a carabiner to MiddExpress. They will receive their $5.00 deposit back on their declining balance only.

Local Food

Dining Services is committed to supporting local food systems. Our goal is to provide the highest quality and best tasting food to our students as well as to create a dining experience that engages with our community and our environment. 

Read more about our commitment to local food.