Vermont Universities Win $250,000 Grant to Bring More Locally Grown Food to Their Campuses

Schools Are Among 2019 Food Vision Prize Winners from the Henry P. Kendall Foundation


  • newswise-fullscreen Vermont Universities Win $250,000 Grant to Bring More Locally Grown Food to Their Campuses

    Credit: Sally McCay

    A team consisting of the University of Vermont, Norwich University and Sodexo is among the winners of the 2019 New England Food Vision Prize, awarded by the Kendall Foundation to solve “enduring challenges in local farm-to-institution systems.” The $250,000 prize will increase the availability of local produce to universities and hospitals.

Newswise — The Henry P. Kendall Foundation announced the University of Vermont and Norwich University, and food services provider Sodexo, as a 2019 New England Food Vision Prize award winner. The award competition is designed to encourage college and university campuses in the region to improve the health, sustainability and vitality of the region’s food system. 2019 marks the second annual round of $250,000 prizes. Food service leaders from the region’s 200 college and university campuses were invited to submit bold, collaborative, catalytic ideas to increase the amount of regionally produced food on campus menus.

The foundation announced six teams of winners today representing 16 campuses. Each of the six teams of winners will receive an award of up to $250,000 to begin implementation of their project.

The University of Vermont and State Agricultural College and Norwich University, in partnership with Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, the University of Vermont Medical Center, Vermont Food Venture Center and the Pioneer Valley Growers Association, will use the prize funds to invest in state-of-the-art new equipment for food processors in the region. The new equipment will allow them to buy and prepare much more locally grown produce than they do currently and sell it to a variety of institutions who don’t have the staff to do the processing themselves. By coordinating higher education and healthcare institutions, the team can also mitigate seasonal demand challenges that are created by campuses alone. The upfront investment provided by the prize funds leads to a sustainable model that provides a stable and predictable demand for processed local food for institutional markets.

“The Kendall Foundation grant aligns well with the University of Vermont’s land grant mission of providing service and support to the state of Vermont,” said Dennis DePaul, associate dean of student affairs, who oversees the university’s dining program. “It will allow us to use the university’s buying power to purchase significantly more produce from local growers and to add small Vermont farms to our supply chain. The program will benefit both our students, by giving them access to fresh, healthy locally grown food throughout the school year, and the local agricultural economy.”

“This is a great opportunity to serve more locally produced, healthy products in our institutions, while also growing markets for our farmers,” said Jon Ramsay, executive director of the Vermont Food Venture Center.

The New England Food Vision Prize is designed to accelerate progress towards the New England Food Vision, which calls for the region to produce at least 50 percent of its food by 2060, while supporting healthy food for all, sustainable farming and fishing, and thriving communities. The prize is designed to support ideas that result in higher procurement of regional food by institutions, more regional food on campus menus and increased demand for regional food by students while on campus and beyond the campus as alumni.

"Our Vermont First initiative was created to identify and develop sustainable solutions for our clients, customers and communities where we serve," said Phil Harty, Sodexo senior vice president, North America Operations, Universities. “We are excited to partner with University of Vermont, Norwich University, Vermont Food Venture Center and the Pioneer Valley Growers Association to create efficiencies and grow their facilities.

Ideas for the prize were required to be collaborative, with two or more campuses working together. Ideas also had to be replicable and sustainable, applicable outside of the specific contextual factors of one campus or one period of time. Applicants also had to demonstrate how they would measure impact and include elements of movement-building, such as growing demand or knowledge around regionally produced food.

“We are thrilled to have sparked such interest and creative thinking within just two short years,” said Andrew Kendall, executive director of the Kendall Foundation. “The winning teams and their partners are leveraging their purchasing clout in the marketplace together with engaging their students to create the consistent, long-term demand that local farmers, fishers, and ranchers need to sustain and grow their operations. We believe that the ideas represented by this year’s winners reflect the kind of ingenuity needed to build a healthier, sustainable food system in New England.”

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation is a New England philanthropic enterprise that is part of a strong and rapidly expanding network aiming to create a resilient and healthy New England food system.

For a full list of prize winners, please visit kendall.org/prize.

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