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More local produce heading to your dining hall

Serving local produce has been a focal point in Northeastern’s dining halls for many years, and now a new partnership will continue this commitment to bring students quality food from the surrounding area.

Starting this month, Northeastern is partnering with the Massachusetts Farm to School Project and its Harvest of the Month campaign to promote healthy food choices by students and educate them about local produce. Through this partnership, the university will incorporate a selected fruit or vegetable into recipes that call for the ingredient.

All three of the university’s residential dining halls—Stetson East, Stetson West, and International Village—now feature signage promoting September’s produce selection: tomatoes.

“Partnering with the Massachusetts Farm to School Project aligns nicely with what we’ve been committed to for years,” said Maureen Timmons, director of Dining Services.

Tom Barton, campus executive chef, said it’s as simple as using tomatoes in the dining halls’ delis. “Local tomatoes will be incorporated into many of our recipes that call for them,” noted Barton.

The campaign runs from September to February, and future produce of the month selections include carrots, kale, butternut squash, and pears.

Buying local produce is among the many initiatives Northeastern Dining Services has adopted to make the university a “greener” campus. According to the Dining Service’s Green Plan, 165,000 pounds of locally grown produce was served at Northeastern from July 2011 to June 2012.

The university has been buying local produce for many years, Barton said, and it works with a Roxbury-based vendor called FoodEx that delivers food from local farms to the university.

“It is good business in terms of supporting your local farmer,” Barton said. “It travels less and is fresher when it gets here. And, because it is such a short growing season in Massachusetts, I think we have better and more direct access to produce when it’s ready.”

This week Northeastern will get produce from farms in Westport, Mass., Hadley, Mass., and Northborough, Mass.

Timmons said by partnering with Massachusetts Farms to Schools, Northeastern will continue its momentum toward going green, while also educating students about what foods are in season in the local area.
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“Our students join us from around the globe and across the country and may not be aware of what items are seasonal in New England in the fall,” she said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to share the best produce available locally in season.”