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Hope College is Serious About Sustainability

Michigan shaped sugar cookies with Michigan maple glaze! Photo credit: Colleen MattsBy Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems 

February 20, 2019

During the first week of November 2018, staff from Hope College and Creative Dining Services, which provides food service for the college, hosted the Michigan Farm to Institution Network (MFIN) Advisory Committee on a campus tour of all things food. Our first stop was Phelps Dining Hall, the largest dining hall on campus, which supplies about 30,000 meals each week.

The day we arrived, we were welcomed with Michigan apple cider served alongside Michigan-shaped cookies (UP included!) with a maple glaze. Michigan apples are provided to customers nearly year-round, as are cage-free eggs. Crisp Country Acres, a Holland-based family farm, provides some of the Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables seasonally sourced throughout the year. In the fall, menus feature locally-grown carrots, kale, beets, turnips, rutabagas, leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and winter squashes. Michigan milk and ice cream are sourced from Prairie Farms, while some meat products come from Michigan Turkey Producers and Kent Quality Foods, both based in Grand Rapids. With 17 points of service in two dining halls on campus and chefs purchasing their own food for each service site, variety is not in short supply for Hope College students, staff and visitors.

Hope College is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) Program, so its staff are always seeking ways to reduce their environmental impact and further their sustainability efforts. These efforts now include a strawless campaign, compostable materials, green events, an on-site herb garden for dining staff, and even menu options like Less Meat Mondays with education about carbon footprints.

Michigan made quinoa salad and cheeses! Photo credit: Colleen Matts

STARS provides a framework for understanding and tracking sustainability on college and university campuses through five impact areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership. Hope College is one of 21 Michigan institutions engaged in the program (although some are not currently rated) and just one of five that have achieved Silver status. Hope College looks to make a sustainable impact beyond campus too. Staff have collaborated with the City of Holland and the Holland Board of Public Works to create a Sustainability Institute with a mission to “foster collaborative efforts to infuse sustainability into the minds and practices of the greater Holland community.” Learn more about Hope College’s extensive sustainability efforts at hope.edu/sustainability.