Pomona Dining Halls Cut Back on Sustainable Food Purchases

After last year’s $900,000 budget shortfall, Pomona College Dining Services has scaled back some of its sustainability programs to save money. 

A note posted on the “Meat, Dairy, and Eggs” section of Pomona’s sustainability webpage this summer stated that the humane meat program had been suspended. This program was a commitment to the use of animal products that were raised sustainably and humanely, like Mary’s Free-Range Chicken in the San Joaquin Valley in California and Meyer’s Natural Angus in Montana. According to General Manager of Dining Services Glen Graziano, the program was suspended for the summer but has been partially re-implemented for the school year.

“The humane meat program has not been suspended,” Graziano wrote in an e-mail to TSL. “The hamburgers served at the grill are Meyer’s humanely raised beef and the chicken breast served at the grill is Mary’s free range chicken.” 

Although the program was mostly reinstated for the school year, some aspects of the program have remained suspended, according to Dining Services Sustainability and Purchasing Coordinator Samantha Meyer PO ’10. For example, the meats used in the mainline foods are not part of the humane meat program.

“When they looked at where the budget ran over, they saw that some of the sustainability programs in the dining halls were already performing above their goals,” Graziano said.

Dining Services achieved more than double its projected goal for 2020 last year, purchasing food at a sustainability percentage of around 35 percent, measured according to the sustainable food standards described in the Sustainability Action Plan that Pomona adopted in September 2009.

According to the plan, Pomona aimed for 15 percent of its total food purchases to qualify as sustainable by 2015 and hopes to increase that number to 30 percent by 2020.

Under the plan, food products that can be classified as humane—and therefore sustainable—include 100 percent grass-fed beef and cage-free chicken eggs.

Beyond Dining Services, the plan outlines a range of environmental goals the College hopes to fulfill over the next decade. The plan set down a series of steps designed to help ensure that Pomona remains up to date with national and state-wide regulations on energy usage, local and sustainable food purchases and water consumption. 

The sustainability programs are still operational, but budget constraints have caused Pomona to scale back some of the gains made in sustainable food supply at its dining halls. 

 “Instead of purchasing organic butter and yogurt, we now just purchase organic yogurt,” Meyer said. “Also, the bulk produce used in the main line is no longer 100 percent organic.”

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