Sustainable Food and Dining

Sourcing local, sustainable, and community-based food is vital to Colgate University’s sustainability efforts.


Living Local

Purchasing local, sustainable, and humanely produced food supports responsible farming practices while reducing emissions and environmental impacts. The location of the University in the agricultural region of Central New York provides many great options for finding local suppliers of high-quality foods.

Colgate works with several area distributors who specialize in sourcing their products from local farmers and producers. This further supports our local economy while allowing us to purchase a wide variety of fresh and local food items. The University also serves food sourced from:

Photo shows students picking vegetables in the rows at the Colgate Community Garden.
Student volunteers pick fresh vegetables at the Colgate Community Garden during harvest season.

Students at the Colgate Community Garden utilize organic farming practices to grow fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers to supply Colgate’s dining halls, a campus produce stand, and the local food cupboard. During the harvest season, fresh produce is delivered to Frank Dining Hall each week.

More about the community garden

Colgate Dining Services purchases produce from Common Thread Community Farm, located five miles north of campus. Numerous students, faculty, and staff also have shares through Common Thread.

Common Thread website

Plant-based Foods

In addition to sourcing ingredients that are produced sustainably, increasing the number of plant-based food options in the dining halls decreases the climate change impact of our meals. The Chartwells dietician and chefs collaborate to ensure there are numerous plant-based options available for every meal.

Sustainable Practices

Dining services purchases sustainable seafood based on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch List. Seafood purchased under these criteria ensures an ongoing strong supply of seafood and the health our oceans. Furthermore, our position on supporting ecologically responsible aquaculture practices helps promote healthier coastal environments.

Dining services serves only fresh fluid milk and fresh yogurt from cows that have been certified to be free of the artificial growth hormones rBGH/rBST. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (also known as Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin) is a biochemical injected into cows to increase their udders’ size and milk production. rBGH is banned in most industrialized nations, but has yet to be recognized by the FDA for its implication in causing cancer, abnormal growths/tumors, and decreased effectiveness of antibiotics.

Dining services offers only Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC) certified cage-free eggs. In December 2007, Compass Group implemented a cage-free shell egg policy. All units are required to offer only shell eggs that are certified by the HFAC program in partnership with the Humane Society of America.

The non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal production is a growing public health concern because it decreases the effectiveness of antibiotics to treat diseases in humans. Therefore, dining services only serves chicken and turkey that have been produced with restricted use of these drugs, especially as a growth additive in feed. Our contracted suppliers are required to provide products that adhere to criteria developed in partnership with The Environmental Defense Fund.

  • Pre-recycled, compostable napkins in all locations.
  • Serve on non-disposable china and reusable hard plastic for meals at Frank Dining Hall.
  • All out take-out locations utilize corn-based compostable packaging and flatware.
  • Participation in a campus-wide ban of Styrofoam products.

Community Service

In addition to reducing its carbon footprint, Colgate University's promotion of sustainable local dining also supports the local community. Efforts by the Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education help ensure that local families have access to healthy meals.

Supplying Hamilton Food Cupboard

The Colgate Community Garden, which is researched and managed by students, donates half the produce it yields to the Hamilton Food Cupboard, a local food pantry serving the Hamilton & Madison School Districts. 

Colgate Hunger Outreach Program (CHOP)

This group of student volunteers addresses issues of hunger in Madison County, educating the Colgate community about the underlying issues of hunger and poverty.

More about CHOP