As colleges around the country take a stance on local and organic food while grappling
with issues of food security, sustainability, and waste, Washington College occupies
a special place in that dialogue: our location on the Delmarva Peninsula sits within
the largest contiguous tract of farmland in the mid-Atlantic region. And our waterfront
campus connects us to the storied seafood culture of the Chesapeake Bay.
Today, the poultry industry dominates agriculture on the Delmarva, with feed grains
grown in the northern parts supplying chicken farms and processing plants further
south. While this industry generates jobs, it also contributes to air and water pollution.
And despite the prevalence of farms, food deserts beset by poverty comprise large
areas of the region.
Our participation in the web of life preserves the integrity of the systems that support
us. By regenerating soil and promoting nourishment with local and seasonal food produced
through sustainable methods, we encourage a pattern of living that improves the well-being
of our bodies as an expression of the environment.
This plan articulates Washington College’s commitment to transform the Delmarva food
production and distribution systems by leveraging its institutional influence in the
purchase, consumption, and disposal of food. Our priorities reflect strong ecological
and community health values, with attention to fiscal sustainability and civic responsibility.
Background & Current Status
The campus culture at Washington College has a considerable amount of excitement around
the idea of food sustainability, which has efforts led by various groups and organizations.
Dining Services relies on outside vendors to produce, prepare, and distribute food. Our current vendor,
Chartwells, builds into its operations a program to reduce food waste and educational materials
to support sustainability. Current efforts include procurement from the Monterey Bay
Seafood safe list, reusable takeout containers, Fair Trade coffee, and purchasing
from local farms whenever possible.
The Food Initiative, directed by staff and interns within the Office of Sustainability, advocates for nutrient-dense whole foods, culinary wellness, and food literacy to
promote a regenerative relationship between human health and the environment.
The Center for Environment & Society (CES) provides signature programming connecting food and environment, including the
Chesapeake Semester immersive experience for students. CES runs co-curricular programs at the River and Field Campus, a 4,700-acre living ecological lab, that has plans to add a Student Farm in the future.
The Student Environmental Alliance (SEA) launched a campus chapter of the Food Recovery Network. Students collaborate with Dining Services, the Heron Point retirement community, and local nonprofit organizations to donate prepared, but uneaten, meals to local residents in need.
The Campus Garden, located at the northeast corner of campus, is a permaculture demonstration site
of a perennial forest garden that promotes a revival of the sacred and staple foods
of indigenous peoples. Its mission is to achieve food security through ecological
design. It has prompted the elevation of marginal campus areas into Green Spaces with an eye toward outdoor recreation and landscaping with perennial, native, and
wild foods. Our Tree Campus High Ed certification presents an ongoing opportunity to celebrate the abundance of a ecologically
stewarded campus landscape.
The Compost Team feeds the food web by restoring soil fertility through organic amendments generated
through campus food scraps. Students lead the way in advocating for organics recycling
and providing educational programming at their demonstration composting site.
Washington College will address issues of sustainability, food access, and dietary
and social health, providing a model that other institutions can emulate to support
human communities and ecological resilience.
Transform the culture at Washington College to position the institution as a national
leader in our sustainable food policies and practices.
In accordance with our mission and vision, we'll know we're making progress as we:
I. Create a new culture of eating and food literacy.
- Address campus hunger and food access issues with a campus food pantry.
- Enable people to take charge of their health through food.
- Phase out the distribution of containerized water and sugary drinks.
- Transition to regenerative, health-promoting cooking oils and fats.
- Promote the benefits of nutrient density, bioavailability, and food variety.
- Host monthly foraging walks for campus community to learn edible plants.
- Run a community book club to promote the local exchange of ideas.
- Promote student jobs and internships with local food producers and providers.
- Host an annual food summit with partner institutions and organizations.
II. Become a zero-waste campus and community.
- Run a Zero Waste Move-in program for new students each fall.
- Support the redistribution of uneaten food through the Food Recovery Network.
- Support the Compost Team to elevate the recycling of organics.
- Promote reusable cups and compostable take-out containers.
- Promote alternatives to yogurt cups, soft drinks, and snack bars.
- Introduce a purchasing policy that avoids disposable packaging.
- Purchase from distributors that offset the majority of their carbon emissions.
- Use cleaning products that avoid waste and environmental toxicity.
III. Promote scalable food production through edible landscaping.
- Invite students, faculty, and staff to participate in campus food production.
- Promote pollinators in food production as part of Bee Campus USA certification.
- Promote edible plants around campus with pocket gardens and clear signage.
- Introduce “adopt-a-space” opportunities for clubs to steward Green Spaces.
- Establish a campus orchard inspired by historic connection to Sophie Kerr.
- Provide horticultural training guided by permaculture ethics.
- Introduce microlivestock/livestock capacities at Washington College.
- Collaborate with local organizations to support food web resilience.
- Support the development of a student farm at RAFC.
IV. Promote environmentally responsible farming in the mid-Atlantic region.
- Put policies in place to promote the routine use of regional, organic
- Purchase Fair Trade products whenever possible.
- Implement a procurement policy to lead toward bioregional self-sufficiency.
- Purchase animal products from environmentally responsible producers.
- Pursue and exceed Green Restaurant certification standards.