The foundation of Colby-Sawyer’s curriculum and heart of its education empowers students with the knowledge and tools to initiate change. Compelled by the notion that he could make a difference, Garrett Dunnells '16, an environmental science major, set out to reduce the environmental impact of dining at Colby-Sawyer.

Launched in spring 2012, the Local Foods Petition was Dunnells's vision to integrate local foods into the dining hall. His petition stated that those who signed wanted 20 percent of the food served to come from within a 100-mile radius of the college. “Going into the petition, I had just taken an environmental issues class. That really opened my eyes about how people can make a change and what you can do on a more personal level rather than political,” Dunnells explained.

The petition held 734 signatures after just two days. A team of students presented it to the college administration and then-President Tom C. Galligan Jr. for their approval. Dunnells and the college's Director of Sustainability and Innovation, Jennifer White '90, worked closely with the dining services team over the next year to identify local sourcing options, cut resulting costs, and iron out the logistics of more locally-sourced products.

Today, over 20 regional farmers and producers around New England contribute ingredients to Colby-Sawyer’s menu. On any given day, you can enjoy meat, dairy, veggies, cereals, and more that are fresh and delicious and support the wellbeing and financial stability of people and businesses in the region. In addition to reducing the number of miles your food has traveled, there are other ways students like you have leveraged positive impacts in the dining hall.

The student-driven Fair Trade Committee achieved Colby-Sawyer recognition as the first Fair Trade Certified private college in New Hampshire, helping promote global farmers’ rights and sustainable agriculture. Another student group, Feed the Freezer, reduced food waste and food insecurity in the region by instituting the first certified chapter of the National Food Recovery Network in New Hampshire. This volunteer-run program has donated over 100 pounds of frozen meals per week to local food pantries.

Other practices also help ensure that your dinner does more good than harm, including:

  • Using energy efficient appliances and lighting
  • Offering reusable to-go containers and composting food waste
  • Purchasing organic and sustainably-farmed produce
  • Selecting humanely-raised/hormone-free meats and eggs
  • Offering vegetarian and vegan options with every meal