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Kenyon’s Local Food Programs

Kenyon College leads the nation in farm-to-college programs. We currently purchase 38% of the food served in our dining hall from local sources, and we expect to expand. Our program is motivated by a number of factors. We hope to foster a sustainable agricultural community in Knox County and preserve the rural way of life. This effort enables us to provide higher quality food for students while keeping costs low. In some cases, locally produced food is inherently cheaper than what we can buy from a large-scale distributor, especially considering its higher quality. We offer this case study of a successful farm-to-college program in order to help other institutions that are trying to begin or expand their local food programs.

The key to ensuring reliability in a local food system lies in the face-to-face relationships formed between the institution and its individual producers.  At Kenyon, the relationships we form with our producers are not mere business transactions; they are friendships built upon integrity, trust, and mutual support. There must be a designated person who goes out and forms these producer relationships; at Kenyon, this is the job of our sustainability director.  Our sustainability director works closely with producers during the winter to help them thoroughly systematize their production for the following season, and he is constantly coordinating and communicating with them. Click to read more about how Kenyon sources its local food.