Our food is particularly emblematic of sustainability, a personal and literal symbol of the connection between the social and the environmental. The physically closer we are to the original sources of our food, the greater our ability is to affect positive change.

At all three campuses, focusing on local food sources means we are engaging with, investing in, and providing support to our local food systems while reducing the carbon footprint of our community.

Target actions for 2021

Sustainability plan guiding principles

  •  Ensure students achieve sustainability literacy
  •  Choose our research conscientiously
  •  Keep equity and inclusion at the center
  •  Use resources responsibly
  •  Decarbonize

UW Housing and Food Services (HFS) Dining will actively seek to partner with suppliers and local vendors to raise the fraction of foods procured from within a 250-mile radius five percentage points, to a total of 35% of all foods procured. These Actions will aid in the support of the local food system while reducing the overall carbon food-print.

Steps we will take in FY 2021

  1. UW Dining will make every effort to seek out procurement of foods from sources that are located within 250 miles of the University of Washington campus.

  2. UW Dining will continue to partner with the UW Farm and seek out innovative ways to increase the velocity of items that UW Dining purchases.

  3. UW Dining will collaborate with on and off-campus partners to advertise and bring awareness to local goods through various modes including but not limited to student outreach efforts and lecture opportunities.

Responsible party

Housing & Food Services

Statuses and linkages

UW Dining currently allocates 30% of its total food spend to local sources. To be successful and maintain a sustainable procurement approach, HFS Dining will need to balance the UW community demand with budgetary allowances as the increased target of 35% may result in higher food costs. In the event that these changes lead to higher food costs, UW Dining will seek direct support from Committee and Executive Leadership in the justifications for increased costs as result of this target. Additionally, HFS Dining will monitor the tolerance of higher priced menu items and will address the need for reevaluation of this target in the event increased costs are not tolerated and cannot be mitigated.

Financing

Financing for FY 2021 is contingent as described below.

The cost of food is considered an operating cost within the HFS Dining budgets and is a part of the greater annual fiscal year budget creation and ongoing budget management processes. As a self-sustaining auxiliary, HFS Dining operates without outside financial assistance, including from the University of Washington or state funds. As a result, the services it provides are largely paid for through operating revenue from on- campus customers.

Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are complex considerations with upcoming budget creation and management. HFS Dining’s operating revenue is directly dependent upon the resident occupancy and number of people on campus. Additionally, HFS Dining will need to make changes to accommodate necessary regulations stemming from COVID-19 which are likely to come at an additional cost. All of these elements will need to be considered in conjunction with the potential increased costs of local food when pursuing these targets and may impact food cost budget.

Metrics

  • Percent of food expenditures on sources within 250 miles.

(Additional metrics to be defined during FY 2021.)

This action may induce an indirect points gain in STARS credit OP-7 Food and Beverage Purchasing where UW shows a point gap of 3.11, if the local food meets the certification standards associated with this credit. STARS does not include any credits relating directly to local food sourcing.