Locally grown foods catching on at college dining halls

The local-and-seasonal food movement is going to college. About 200 schools around the country have joined programs that supply them with locally grown foods, like Brown University in Providence, R.I., where locally farmed Pippin and Macoun apples proved so much more popular than Granny Smiths and Red Delicious that food-service buyers soon branched out to local tomatoes, peaches, and milk. And at the University of Montana in Missoula, nearly 20 percent of the dining-hall food budget goes to locally produced meat, wheat, and dairy products. Student-run farms have sprung up at about 60 schools in 27 states in the past 10 years or so, sometimes selling produce to dining halls or nearby restaurants, or donating it to food pantries. Some students find that earning healthier, tastier edibles with sweat equity lets them chill out from the demands of higher ed. “It’s nice during school to be able to go out and get my hands dirty,” said Kevin McAlpin, while tilling the soil at Oregon State University’s student-run organic farm. “It’s stress relief.”