Yale Hosts Conference on Bringing Sustainable Food to Campus Dining Halls

Representatives from Northeastern colleges will gather on the Yale campus November 14 to strategize a transformation in college dining.

The one-day conference, “Tilling the Soil, Turning the Tables,” is a day of panels and workshops promoting sustainable food practices on college campuses.

Three years ago, when Yale students began advocating for more organic food in the dining hall, the College hosted a local farm fair, which culminated in a feast prepared by famed restaurateur Alice Waters. Since then, the college has inaugurated the Yale Sustainable Food Project. As part of that initiative, one residential college has started to serve a seasonal menu built around the freshest available, ecologically cultivated ingredients, and an organic garden and a composting program have been launched.

At the conference, professors of such disparate disciplines as urban studies, psychology and environmental science will join writers, dining hall managers, farmers, chefs and practiced veterans of the sustainable food movement to share their knowledge with participants. Organizers hope that the conference will lead to further cooperative efforts among the participating colleges and with cultivators in the region.

The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. in Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Avenue, with the first panel, “Sustainable Dining Efforts in the Northeast.” The morning welcome will be given by James C. Scott, director of the Agrarian Studies program at Yale, and the panel will include dining service directors from Yale and from Williams College, and a “forager” from an independent day school. The moderator for this discussion is local farmer and popular spokesman for the organic and sustainable food movement, Bill Duesing.

Gus Schumacher, former Undersecretary of Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services in the USDA, and Joan Dye Gussow, author of “This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader,” will deliver opening addresses at 10:30 a.m.

Three workshops make up the first afternoon session, 1:30-2:45 p.m., which takes place in Linsly-Chittenden Hall, 63 High Street. In the first, students share their insights about how to engage students, dining services and local farmers in the sustainable food effort. In the second, Kelly Brownell, author of “Food Fight” and director of Yale’s Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, leads a discussion about obesity and offers advice on how to stem the tide of the epidemic. In the third, Lisa Brawley, who teaches urban studies at Vassar College, will talk about model farms that are already operating on college campuses in the Northeast.

The second session, 3-4:15 p.m„ in Linsly-Chittenden, also offers three workshops. In the first, Beth Collins, a forager, and John Turenne, executive chef at Yale, will discuss working with seasonal and organic produce in a school environment. Mark Winne, the director of the Hartford Food System, will lead the second workshop on educating students, staff and communities in responsible eating. The last workshop, concerning composting systems, is led by Angie Fowler, who manages a five-college recycling program, and Josh Viertel, an associate director of the Yale Sustainable Food Project, who recently set up Yale’s pilot composting system.

Participants are also invited to visit the Yale Sustainable Food Project garden, located less than a half-mile from central campus, where they can learn how Yale students are involved in each step of the food cycle: from growing, preparing and eating food to composting for the next year’s crops.

The conference is free and open to the public.

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345