Higher Education Meets Higher Nutrition

November 1, 2009

Claire Connelly, Grid Magazine -- The local food movement is reaching beyond Philadelphia’s progressive cafés into one of our oldest institutions.

The University of Pennsylvania strives to source 25 percent of their food locally year-round, and close to 50 percent during peak growing season. “We consistently look for opportunities to add local options to our menu,” says Marie Witt, Vice President of Penn’s Division of Business Services. “Next year our [year-round] goal is 35 percent.”

Penn recently brought in Bon Appétit Management Company to replace Aramark in their cafeteria operations and to help further their commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. “Our intent is to continue to build more relationships in the community in line with our philosophy, now that we have joined with Bon Appétit,” says Witt.

The University was a charter member of the Fair Food Farm-to-Institution program, and has been a longtime supporter of the Common Market, a distributor of food produced in Philadelphia, and Slow Food, an international educational organization dedicated to sustainable food. They believe buying local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients preserves flavor and regional diversity, and also ensures peak nutritional value in each meal.

According to Witt, it’s also about supporting the local economy. “Penn has a strong commitment to economic inclusion. Purchasing our foods locally allows us to develop and nurture mutually beneficial relationships with local, family farmers.”

Originally published in the November 2009 issue of Grid Magazine.


The 2014 Power Down Challenge resulted in a combined savings of over 35,000 kWh across campus –enough to power 3.3 homes’ electricity for one year.

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