Graham Sustainability Institute

Evidence-based, Sustainable Decision-Making for Institutional Food Service Providers

Project Team

Greg Keoleian - U-M School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) (PI)
Lesli Hoey - U-M Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Alex Bryan - Michigan Dining
Jeremy Moghtader - U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens

External Partners

East Carolina University Dining Services
LaGrasso Brothers Produce
See:      U-M Looking to Grow Research Data — and Lettuce — with Addition of Freight Farm to Campus Farm  (Michigan Dining)

Project Summary

Institutional food service providers have an increasing number of production options to choose from in sourcing fresh, local foods, yet very little information is available to support comparisons of the environmental sustainability of such options. For example, if the local production of salad greens in northern climates requires technological supplementation of heat and light, is it actually better for the environment than shipping those greens in from warmer climates? What does environmental sustainability mean in this context, and how can it be measured?

A major challenge in supporting UM Dining Services and other institutional food service providers is that the data necessary to conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) is lacking. To help overcome this barrier, this project developed and shared a data collection tool to support collection of data on production inputs and practices, engaged with distant production operators to gather data, and established an operational Freight Farm at the UM Campus Farm for in-house evaluation and data collection.

Additional Resources

For more information, read the final project report (PDF)

This project received a $10,000 Catalyst Grant in 2018.