Green Dining at Duke University: Facilitating Local and Sustainable Food Procurement
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The global food system is responsible for feeding billions of people each day. To accomplish this at the lowest cost, food is produced in a predominantly industrialized manner, causing significant environmental degradation and public health issues, and resulting in social and economic injustices throughout the world. While most chains of food production and consumption are national or even global in scale, some food chains have moved towards revitalizing local and sustainable food systems, which emphasize environmentally responsible agriculture, social justice, and locally-oriented economic structures. Duke Dining Services oversees more than thirty individually contracted eateries on the Duke campus, monitoring their performance through an innovative quality assurance program called PACE. While some eateries at Duke purchase local and sustainable foods, others do not or cannot, facing financial constraints or restrictions imposed by parent companies, or daunted by a lack of experience. The objective of this case study is to (a) better understand Duke’s local food system – from farm to consumer – and potential roles for the university within this system, and (b) to recommend a means of measuring, stimulating, and celebrating the progress of Duke’s eateries towards more sustainable food purchasing. I conducted interviews with individuals involved in the local food system, including farmers, food distributors, eatery managers, and students, among others. I analyzed interview data using NVivo software and inductive coding, and performed content analysis of documents, web materials, and previous research at Duke. Finally, I created recommendations for Duke Dining Services and Sustainable Duke, encouraging them to (1) incorporate food procurement data tracking and reporting requirements into the PACE system, (2) create a Green Dining Award, (3) build and foster a culture of environmental awareness and concern surrounding sustainable and local food issues, focusing on the student body at Duke, and (4) encourage leadership at Duke to make an institutional commitment to sustainable food procurement.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
sustainability in higher education
qualitative research methods
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