University of Montana Farm to College Program

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Type: Program

Status: Ongoing

Source File:


The Farm to College program at the University of Montana is adding more locally produced food to the food offered by UM Dining Services. By allowing members of the campus community to ‘think globally and eat locally’, the program helps them understand the social and environmental impacts of their food choices. By shrinking our foodshed (the area where our food is grown), we support local farms, re-circulate money in the state and local community, and reduce the energy invested in food.

The Farm to College program aims to be a model of institutional local food purchasing. Purchasing local food helps sustain Montana's natural and cultural heritage and economy, and provides healthy, fresh food to the campus community. The program's success may further impact the state by illuminating the possibilities and benefits of local food purchasing and paving the way for other large scale food buyers to purchase locally.

UM Dining Services now incorporates a wide variety of foodstuffs in our regular menu offerings, such as poultry from ET Farms, beef from Montana Natural Beef and Ranchland Packing, pork from Farm-to-Market Pork, Montoya oils in all our fryers, plus as much fresh, locally-grown produce as possible. We also feature Hi-Country jerky, BrenTari Salsa, & Bausch Potatoes in the Food Zoo and UC Food Court. All our breads are from Wheat Montana, pasta from Pasta Montana, tortillas from Service Specialty and dairy products are local from MeadowGold. We are also encouraging our prime vendor to carry more local or regional food products.

The biggest hurdle has been Montana's growing season which does not lend itself to a large variety of produce during the academic year, plus Montana does not have many value-added food production businesses in the state. Therefore, we are focusing on year-round products that are traditionally top agricultural products in this state: beef, wheat, honey, and to some extent, pork and chicken.

More info on the Farm to College Program is available here.