Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 76.45
Liaison Ryan Ihrke
Submission Date Oct. 17, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Green Mountain College
OP-6: Food and Beverage Purchasing

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.48 / 4.00 Sam Dixon
Local Food Specialist
Cerridwen Farm
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Percentage of dining services food and beverage expenditures that are local and community-based and/or third party verified:

A copy of an inventory, list or sample of sustainable food and beverage purchases:
An inventory, list or sample of sustainable food and beverage purchases:

Does the institution wish to pursue Part 2 of this credit (food and beverage expenditures for on-site franchises, convenience stores, vending services, or concessions)?:

Percentage of on-site franchise, convenience store, vending services, and concessions food and beverage purchases that are local and community-based and/or third party verified:

A copy of an inventory, list or sample of on-site franchise, convenience store, vending machine, and/or concessions food and beverage purchases that are sustainably produced:

An inventory, list or sample of on-site franchise, convenience store, vending machine, and/or concessions food and beverage purchases that are sustainably produced:

We have a very small amount of vending machines on campus owned by PepsiCo (less than 10). When these machines were inventoried in 2014, none of them contained food or beverages that are sustainably produced according to STARS guidelines. The company Chartwells runs our dining services and snack bar (called the Buttery) and all of their purchases are counted in the dining services calculation. There are no other permanent sources of food sales on campus. Occasionally, vendors or fundraising organizations sell food at sports events, but less than 1% of this food meets the STARS criteria.

A brief description of the sustainable food and beverage purchasing program:

Green Mountain College’s Sustainable Food Purchasing Initiative (in conjunction with Chartwells Dining Services):

In addition to offering a new masters program in Sustainable Food Systems, the College is nationally known for its major in Sustainable Agriculture & Food Production, an academic program that offers students the opportunity to work on the college’s on-campus farm. Through a combination of coursework and experience working on the farm, students are able to explore vegetable production, livestock management, development of farm infrastructure, and marketing techniques as they take part in producing some of the vegetables, eggs, and meats featured in the dining hall. Along with Chartwells dining services, students and faculty have long been exploring new ways to offer local, community-based, organic, and other sustainable food options.

In 2012, GMC’s Chartwells dining services purchased $14,488.00 dollars worth of produce and meat from the college farm to be served in the GMC dining hall. The purchase of 600lbs of pork raised by students on the college farm prompted a celebratory localvore feast which featured the pork and an array of seasonal vegetables and other Vermont products. Not only did the feast use local food, but the students also invited farmers and food vendors from all over the county for the free dinner.
In addition to sourcing ingredients from the college farm, Chartwells spends an average of $30,000 per month in support of Vermont farms and dairies. These sources include Vermont-based producers such as Thomas Dairy, Champlain Orchards, and Cerridwen Farm. The dining hall also supports local businesses in purchases of non-food items such as linens and kitchenware. Green Mountain College strives to increase sustainable purchasing and uses small-scale New England based distributors when logistically and financially feasible. Such distributors include companies such as Sid Wainer, Black River, Green Mountain Coffee Company, Purdy and Son’s, Vermont Roots, and Foley Services. Most of these companies are small and local, and as such can more readily be held accountable for environmental and social responsibility than some of the larger and more inaccessible corporations.

The latest goal of the Sustainable Purchasing Initiative is to help Chartwells and patrons of the dining hall to more easily make educated purchases, by giving them the proper metrics in a user friendly format. The College aims to allow consumers of food to have quick “at-a-glance” knowledge about the food they are eating. These metrics will eventually be displayed on a “Diet Dashboard” (a flat screen TV in the dining hall or just outside it in the lobby where the energy dashboard is located). In the interim, paper signs may be used to show the equivalent mileage of driving for every basic type of food eaten. The paper signs were made by a quantitative environmental literacy class in 2013.

The larger effort to track the impact of food purchases was recently launched by the Center of the Plate Club, a student group which actively partakes in the preparing of local foods for the dining hall as well as carrying out other food education activities. Since the effort began the local food specialist and a graduate student in the MSFS program worked with Chartwells staff to develop a system for tracking food impacts. A homemade system was considered, as well as a beta version of a carbon/energy tool offered by Chartwells. After a funding source is secured, GMC staff, Chartwells, and the student-run Center of the Plate/Slow Food Club aim to continue implementing a food dashboard to display data in a real-time format. In the meantime, dining services directors are already using the carbon/energy tool to inform monthly purchasing decisions.

A brief description of the methodology used to track/inventory sustainable food and beverage purchases:

General methodology:

Invoices from Chartwell’s (GMC’s dining services company) were examined for local and community-based, and/or organic purchases by GMC’s sustainable food specialist with oversight from GMC’s director of sustainability. The total local and community based and/or third-party certified percentage was derived from dividing credit-worthy purchases by the total food expenditures for each of the four sample months, and then averaging the percentages across the sample months to estimate average purchasing behavior across the year.

Time Boundaries: The reporting year is meant to approximate Fiscal Year 2013, with the caveat that one of the four sample months is April 2012. Because of limited data availability and staff time, the researchers thought it would be more accurate to include the outlying month than to not include it. Including it allows for a closer approximation of average purchasing behavior because the sample includes two months that are generally heavier on farm purchases and two months that are generally lighter on farm purchases (Lighter: April 2012 & January 2013; Heavier: September 2012 & October 2012).

Physical Boundaries: Local was defined as grown within 250 miles to be consistent with STARS. Some of the months included only purchases that are within 100 miles, but to ensure that local is not over-counted, the researchers used the 250 mile designation because one of the months was not screened for 100 miles.

Third-party Certification: The list of STARS-appropriate certifications were used as a screen for this designation.

Special adjustments for error: In the past, GMC researchers used a less precise screen for local and/or third-party certified, so an adjustment percentage was subtracted from the total numbers to account for possible error. Now that the analysis is more thorough, researchers feel confident enough to remove this error adjustment. The food specialist examined every receipt in the monthly samples and researched all of the vendors that are being counting toward the local/community-based and/or certified percentage.

Total annual food and beverage expenditures:
542,712 US/Canadian $

Which of the following food service providers are present on campus and included in the total food and beverage expenditure figures?:
Present? Included?
Dining operations and catering services operated by the institution No No
Dining operations and catering services operated by a contractor Yes Yes
Franchises Yes Yes
Convenience stores No No
Vending services Yes No
Concessions Yes No

Has the institution achieved the following?:
Yes or No
Fair Trade Campus, College or University status No
Certification under the Green Seal Standard for Restaurants and Food Services (GS-46) No
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification No
Signatory of the Real Food Campus Commitment (U.S.) No

A brief description of other sustainable restaurant and food service standards that the institution’s dining services operations are certified under:

Green Restaurant Certified:

In 2012, Chartwells Dining Service at GMC was awarded Green Restaurant Certification through the Green Restaurant Association. Chartwells achieved 142.58 points on the assessment, well above the required 100 points.

Certification was based on the implementation of environmental steps in a variety of categories which included disposables, energy, food, furnishing and building materials, pollution and chemical reduction, waste, and water.

Chartwells will continue to implement the programs leading to this achievement as well as introduce new measures to ensure ongoing certification. To learn more about the Green Restaurant Association and the certification program, visit dinegreen.com

The website URL where information about the institution's sustainable food and beverage purchasing efforts is available:

Performance year for the percentage of local and community-based and/or third-party certified food is an approximation of FY 2013. Because of limited data availability and staff time, the estimated percentage expenditures are based on a sample of four months, one of which is outside the fiscal year (April, 2012). However, food expenditures did not change considerably between April, 2012 and April, 2013, so the researchers feel it is a reasonable proxy. It is important to have the spring season represented in the sample to provide a more complete picture of annual expenditures, given that the spring season typically has less food purchases that meet the criteria. For a more complete explanation of the methodology, see the methodology section above.

Performance year for the total annual food and beverage expenditures is calendar year 2012. The calendar year was chosen rather than the fiscal year because expenditures are tracked by Chartwells on a calendar year basis. The expenditures on local/community-based and/or third-party certified food were estimated by applying the FY 2013 percentage of sustainably-sourced food to the calendar year 2012 expenditures. Given that three out of the four sample months for the sustainably-sourced food inventory fell in calendar year 2012, researchers believe this is a reasonable methodology for estimating expenditures.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.