Northeastern Adopts New Sustainability Program

At least 20 percent of Northeastern's food will be locally sourced.

Students petitioning for the Real Food Movement last October will get their wish this fall as Northeastern joins the program. Photo via Real Food Northeastern Facebook.

Students petitioning for the Real Food Movement last October will get their wish this fall. Photo via Real Food Northeastern Facebook.

This week, Northeastern University became Boston’s first college to join the Real Food Challenge, which is a national campaign through which colleges pledge to purchase 20 percent of their food from local, sustainable sources.

The Real Food Challenge will begin this fall at Northeastern’s International Village dining hall. A small group of students will work with dining services to process invoices, and they will break down the “real food” being provided into four categories: community based, fair, ecologically sound, and humane. In a report for Northeastern, Maureen Timmons, the director of dining services at Northeastern, said:

“We’re thrilled about this com­mit­ment. It takes all the work we’ve been doing on sus­tain­ability to a whole new level. We give the stu­dents a lot of credit for their com­mit­ment to the issue and for working so closely with us.”

According to the report, Northeastern’s participation in the Real Food Challenge will continue the university’s commitment to green initiatives and sustainability. Two of the seven 3-star certified “Green Restaurants” in Mass. (restaurants that are awarded stars are environmentally responsible, and excel at waste reduction, recycling, and sustainability) located on Northeastern’s campus (The International Village Dining Hall, Peet’s Coffee, and Jamba Juice), plus the university’s compost system processes nearly 700 tons of compost each year.

Timmons says that it was the students’ dedication to the issue that led to the university’s decision to adopt the program. The School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs will offer a course in the spring dedicated to Northeastern’s involvement in the sustainability movement, too.

Tricia Kiefer, one of the students who was heavily involved in the campaign last year, is excited about Northeastern’s willingness to adopt the program. She graduated last fall and now works for the Real Food Challenge. In the report, she said:

“Our cam­paign on campus has been really dynamic. The core group of stu­dents has worked hard this semester to unify stu­dents, staff, and the admin­is­tra­tion around this impor­tant common goal.”