UNH Local Harvest Initiative


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Local, regional, and sustainable food

The Local Harvest Initative is a growing partnership of UNH Dining, the Sustainability Institute, and local producers. Through the Local Harvest Initiative, UNH Dining is committed to serving locally, regionally, and sustainably grown, produced, and manufactured items to the greatest extent possible. Many of these items are included regularly in the dining halls and campus retail outlets, and others are purchased for special events such as the annual Local Harvest Feast. The sustainability commitment of UNH Dining is part of the university’s broader Food & Society Initiative, which commits UNH to being a sustainable food community that promotes healthy food systems from farm to fork to health and nutrition outcomes.

Serving locally and regionally grown, produced, and manufactured items ensures that the food served is the freshest possible while helping to support our local economy, a vibrant regional agricultural infrastructure, and a healthy food system. We look for farms and food producers or manufacturers located within a 250 mile radius from UNH. Additional criteria that UNH Dining considers in its purchasing decisions include:

From which farms, producers, and manufacturers does Dining purchase food?

Approximately 22% of Dining's budget is spent on items grown, processed, or manufactured locally and regionally (within a 250 mile radius of UNH). Check out the list of featured Local Harvest Vendors!

UNH Dairy Bar: Local - Sustainable - Fresh

In the summer of 2008, Dining opened a revamped UNH Dairy Bar featuring local foods, nutritious and delicious menu, and sustainable operations. From local foods to energy efficient appliances to compostable to-go containers, the Dairy Bar features sustainability at its most delicious. Find out more...

Annual Local Harvest Feast

This ever-popular annual feast - which won the Bronze Medal in the 2007 Loyal E. Horton Award Competition for a Large School Theme Dinner from the National Association of College & University Food Services - features local foods and gourmet dining at the UNH Durham campus dining halls. In addition, displays by featured farmers, businesses, and organizations are set up each year for guests to peruse and learn more about our local food system. Held each September, the Local Harvest Feast attracts thousands of diners every year: The Local Harvest Feast attracted approximately 1,600 diners in its first year (2005); 1,900 diners in 2006; 3,700 in 2007; 7,000 in 2008; and 7,700 in 2009. The event features a local breakfast at Stillings Dining Hall, a local lunch at Philbrook Dining Hall, and local dinner at Holloway Commons. To read the press release and view the menu, click here

Local Seafood Initiative

In 2014, UNH Dining started the Local Seafood Initiative. Working with UNHSI, Cooperative Extension, UNH Slow Food, and others. Dining now sources a portion of its fish offerings from New England fisherman and organizes a local seafood dinner in the spring that is open to the UNH community and general public.

Click here to see photos from the 2015 Dinner.

UNH was the first university to sign on to the Slow Fish Principles. Click here to read.

 The Local Harvest Feast is offered to all students on the UNH meal plan as well as to the general public (breakfast $8.95, lunch $12.95, dinner $16.95, plus tax). 

Vegetarian and vegan options

UNH offers vegetarian and vegan options in each dining hall. Daily menus, including interactive nutritive analysis, are available online.

Finding local foods around UNH

Want to go apple picking? Visit a farmers' market? Dine at restaurant featuring local foods on its menu? This list will get you started!

UNH Compost Program

The UNH Compost Program is program run by University Hospitality Services and the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture. Since the program was began in 1998, over half a million pounds of food waste have been diverted from the waste stream and composted. Approximately 25,000-40,000 pounds of pre- and post-consumer food waste are diverted from the UNH dining halls per month through the composting program. All UNH dining halls have installed food pulpers to pulverize food waste into small bits and extract liquid, a process that helps to facilitate the composting process. Since summer 2006, University Hospitality staff has been managing the food waste collection and drop off at UNH’s Kingman Farm, home of the compost windrows.

Recycling and waste reduction

  • Dining Services has a comprehensive recycling program including glass, plastic, cardboard, cans, and paper.
  • Dining reuses or recycles used equipment during renovations whenever possible.
  • Dining serves about 80% of its food in its three dining halls, at which they use china and flatware.
  • The Marketplace at Stillings Dining Hall and Elements at Philbrook Dining Hall are "trayless", helping to decrease food waste.
  • Many of the disposable products used by dining are eco-friendly, including eco-friendly “clamshells,” paper cups, compostable to-go containers, and more.
  • Dining engages in waste reduction education in the dining halls, including displays and information tables encouraging students to minimize food waste.
  • Dining services offers beverage discounts for using reusable mugs; mugs are distributed free to incoming freshmen.
  • Proulx Oil & Propane and (Restaurant Technologies, Inc.), collect waste vegetable oil from Stillings, Philbrook and Holloway Commons Dining Halls. Both companies process the waste vegetable oil into biodiesel.

Energy use and equipment

UNH Dining has partnered with Purchasing and the Energy Office to identify and purchase ENERGY STAR and other efficient equipment. To date, implemented measures include low-flow faucets and more efficient lighting. Buildings are also automated for energy use. Air-cooled refrigeration is used almost exclusively, as opposed to water-cooled which reduces water usage. To support the Green Certified Cleaning Program, Dining utilizes non-caustic washing chemicals and other environmentally friendly cleaning products provided by EcoLogic. During the summer of 2007, UNH Dining installed a new dishwasher in Philbrook Dining Hall that will reduce water usage by 60% or more. UNH Dining has replaced 17 traditional urinals with waterless urinals that will eventually save an estimated 765,000 gallons of water per year and $20,000 in annual water and sewer costs. Because the new urinals eliminate flush valves, maintenance costs are also reduced. Read more.

Charting Emissions from Food Services (CHEFS)

UNH is one of 13 college campuses currently piloting a prototype of CHEFS, a tool developed by Clean Air-Cool Planet to measure the carbon impact of institutional dining services. Developed by CA-CP for release in early 2010, this tool quantifies the carbon impact of food production, processing, distribution, preparation and disposal. The CHEFS tool will work in tandem with CA-CP’s current Campus Carbon Calculator™ which tracks direct campus emissions. The goal is to create a tool that will inform better decision-making by dining service operators and their patrons.

Get involved!

There are lots of ways to get involved in our food community at UNH!