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Skidmore College

Current initiatives: food

Local foods survey and research | Skidmore farmers market |
 dining hall strategies | Skidmore Student Garden

The Student Garden supplies produce to the Dining HallLocal foods survey for farmers and distributors: Sustainable Skidmore, the Sustainability Office at Skidmore College, located in Saratoga Springs, New York, is interested in enhancing the farm-to-college program on campus in order to improve our current local, healthy and sustainable food initiatives.

We are interested in developing more partnerships with local and regional farms, but we need more information about what farmers are looking for in order to identify what is possible for our campus. You will find links below, or printable/mailable versions in the menu bar on the left, of a list of questions modified from Cornell’s Farm to Cafeteria toolkit. Could you help? Responses should take no more than 5–10 minutes and will help us pinpoint opportunities to improve our local foods program and support more local growers. If you have comments, questions, or information to share with us, please email Thank you and we look forward to hearing back from you!

Distributors: take the survey online or download a copy
Producers/farmers: take the survey online or download a copy

Skidmore local food research: Sarah Arndt '14 is working on a summer internship with Sustainable Skidmore that focuses on local and regional foods purchasing and networking. This is an extension of a project throughout the 2011–12 academic year, when she worked with the Real Food Challenge, a national organization, to calculate the percentage of "real food" on the Skidmore campus, in cooperation with the Environmental Action Club. Arndt also was a part of a new internship program in Skidmore's Dining Services that allows students to complete research and other projects related to local food in the dining hall. Arndt joined Eva Fillion '12, Ros Freeman '12, Jewels O'Brien '15 and Laura Mindlin '15 in these internships, which resulted in local-foods education and marketing for the dining hall, redesign of the Dining Services website for sustainability, an herb garden between the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall and Jonsson Tower, and research related to how other campuses are approaching local foods purchasing. Will Dowling '12 also worked on an environmental studies capstone project related to the feasibility of a community supported agriculture (CSA) program offered to students and others at Skidmore, and Alexandra Steinhauer conducted research alongside Dowling. 

Skidmore farmers market: Every Friday, Saratoga Apple comes to Skidmore to sell their products. This not only serves as a way to bring more local products to campus, it also is a great venue for community building. Look for the Saratoga Apple table outside of the Skidmore Shop on Friday afternoons during the academic year.

Dining Hall Strategies

Murray-Aikins Dining Hall renovations: Thanks to the dining hall's 2006 renovation, the new dining program has reduced its food waste by an estimated 20%.

Food waste reduction strategies: Proper food handling can reduce wasted food significantly by making sure that food does not have to be thrown out because of avoidable mistakes. Skidmore Dining Services works hard to ensure that their staff is properly trained, first and foremost to ensure the safety of the students and their staff, but also to reduce the amount of food that is thrown away. Dining Services staff members go through knife training, which reduces the amount of food wasted during food preparation. In addition, all staff and management are Servsafe-certified. The certification course instructs dining service staff about proper food handling; mishandled food is food that often needs to be thrown out. Servsafe covers systems such as "first in, first out," which ensures that the oldest product is used before the newest, and proper storage temperatures for various types of food. To reduce overserving students, staff members use scales, scoops and spoons to manage serving size. Finally, Dining Services staffers are encouraged to be creative in their use of leftovers for soups or other daily chef creations.

Trayless dining: The trayless dining program was implemented many years ago and has been successful since Day One. The trayless program reduces food waste, as people are less likely to take more food than they can eat. By not having trays to wash, the dining hall also saves water, energy and cleaning supplies. Together, the program has made a significant impact in reducing waste and overall consumption.

Expanded vegetarian and vegan options: Through the generous support of a college trustee, Skidmore opened Emily's Garden, which offers vegetarian and vegan options. Emily's Garden has also expanded the amount of local, organic produce on campus.

Partnerships with local farms: Skidmore's dining services has created several partnerships with local farms, working extensively with Saratoga Apple; receiving more flour from New York State–based grain producer and flour mill North Country Farms; buying shell eggs from Thomas Poultry; selling milk in retail locations from Battenkill Farms; and providing local milk from Stewart's Shops in the Murray Aikins Dining Hall.

You can read more about these initiatives on the Dining Services website.

Skidmore Student Garden - can ya dig it?
Skidmore Community Garden

In April 2009 volunteers from the Environmental Action Club, with the support of Facilities Services, broke ground to create the Skidmore College Student Garden. The garden supplies local food, grown using organic practices, to Skidmore's dining hall. The garden facilitates a connection to and appreciation for the food the students eat in the dining hall and offers hands-on learning opportunities for the Skidmore community. It also provides an outlet for students interested in environmental issues, social justice and economic sustainable development to learn about the local food movement and the ecology of food. In its first season, the garden produced over 1,100 lbs. of food, and students hosted a "harvest dinner" that served more than 150 students food that was either produced by the student garden or donated by the Saratoga Farmers Market.

  • 2012 Season: The Skidmore Student Garden is already underway for the 2012 summer season. Volunteers have helped throughout the spring and summer to plant, weed, harvest and provide assistance with other activities. In addition, Camp North Woods, which has kids from first through six grades, came to the garden on July 25 to help out and learn about what grows there and what some of it tastes like. There are many beds in the garden, planted with items such as carrots, rainbow swiss chard, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes and herbs.
  • Students in the Environmental Action Club's Food Group put together an amazing local foods cookbook. Special thanks to Jewels O'Brien '15 and Laura Mindlin '15 for putting a lot of time and effort into this project.
  • To stay connected to the happenings of the Skidmore student garden, please join us on Facebook.
  • Previous Skidmore student garden seasons: