Local Food

Washington University in St. Louis has committed to purchase and support local and seasonal products in all food categories. Approximately 17 percent of WashU Dining Services food is locally grown, locally processed, or third-party certified (Fair Trade, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, etc.).

More specifically, WashU aims to support local farmers by sourcing 20 percent locally grown or processed food from within 200 miles of campus by 2017 and 22 percent by 2020 by dollars spent.

WashU purchases seasonal and regional food to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from long-range transportation and to support the local economy.

Our Local Food Goals

Food grown within 200 miles of campus is most preferable, which is a range sufficient to include most of Missouri, Illinois and parts of the surrounding Midwest. Bon Appétit chefs generally aim for within 150 miles as a first-choice preference, falling within the value specified by WashU. Food produced within 600 miles is less preferable, although preferred over food from farther away. Food that is processed within the range is also preferred, although products grown or produced near to campus that travel farther away during the distribution cycle are not preferred.

To achieve this goal, Washington University Dining Services in partnership with Bon Appétit and Aramark will:

  • Develop a system with partners and food service providers to efficiently track locally-produced purchases as a percentage of total purchases.
  • Foster relationships with farmers and producers to increase the supply of local, seasonal food within desired distances to the university.
  • Partner with food service distributors to expand options for locally-produced food and ordering wherever possible, especially when the cost is neutral.
  • Label locally-produced food wherever possible in dining locations.

Campus Garden

Nothing is as local as when on campus. WashU students founded an urban garden on campus in 2007. Completely student-run, The Burning Kumquat seeks to empower its volunteers and the community with the shared experience of practicing sustainable urban agriculture. The farm sells its fresh produce both on campus and at the North City Market in St. Louis. During the summer, Camp Kumquat brings St. Louis youth to The Burning Kumquat to explore food, nutrition and gardening.

Students gardening at the burning kumquat garden


Farm to Fork Program

Bon Appétit has already made a strong commitment to purchasing local food through its Farm to Fork program. Chefs are encouraged to buy at least 20% of their ingredients from small owner-operated farmers and producers within 150 miles of their kitchens. In addition to preserving food’s freshness and flavor, the program supports farmers using environmentally responsible practices. All local participants are required to have a reliable traceability system in place and encouraged to have third-party certifications that verify their farm’s sustainable practices. Regional suppliers within 500 miles are also required to have one of the following third-party certifications for meat and dairy products: Humane Farm Animal Care, Animal Welfare-approved, Global Animal Partnership-level 1 or better, or Food Alliance certification.

Locally Crafted is an outgrowth of the Farm to Fork program that focuses on food production and business. To qualify for this program, participants must consider local and humane sourcing as well as social sustainability factors, such as having a 100% minority or female staff and a commitment to providing disadvantaged populations with jobs.

Local Food Producer Partnerships

Partnerships with local food producers decrease the turnaround time from Farm to Fork, allowing food to retain a higher nutritional value and eliminating the need for preservatives. Local family farms are preferable because the owners have a stronger relationship to the land, increasing the likelihood that they are conscientious stewards. At Ibby’s Bistro in the Danforth University Center, between 70-80 percent of meals served are made from locally-sourced ingredients. For the annual Eat Local Challenge, 100 percent of ingredients for the day come from local sources. Bon Appétit dining areas feature menus full of helpful Farm to Fork indicators and large blackboards listing the farmers supplying the ingredients for the day’s menu.

Bon Appétit is also pursuing a Guaranteed Cash, Guaranteed Crop program that will pay farmers upfront for crops to be delivered at the end of the growing season. During events such as Low Carbon Day, Bon Appétit provides many local options throughout campus, which are clearly marked and advertised.

Aramark’s Local Food

Aramark purchases many items from local sources or regional distribution entities, including pastas, meats, and pickles. Coffee in one of the dining locations is also roasted at a local roaster. Aramark is currently investigating availability and tracking of local food from Sysco.