Dining Program

Cultivating a Community of Thoughtful Eaters

The Dining Program at The Northwest School serves more than 700 meals per day, and is an expression of the community. The program is rooted in principles of cultural diversity, seasonality, sustainability, environmental and social responsibility, nutrition, and culinary excellence. We seek to strike a balance between conscientious purchasing, customer preference, and financial responsibility. We aim to graduate thoughtful eaters, who have a deep appreciation for the cultural, environmental, ethical, and community-building roles that food can play in one’s life, as well as the complexities of the food system.

A Dining Program Committed to Sustainability

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Local and Organic Purchasing

We have 15 vendors, eight of which are Washington-based companies, where products are grown and/or made in-state.

Snapshot of local and organic purchasing:

  • Local purchases = 29%
  • Local produce = 57%
  • Local meat = 19%
  • Overall organic purchases = 11%
  • Organic produce = 50%

We want students to think about where their food comes from, who grows and picks it. Our goal is to connect what the students eat to their values.

Bethany Fong

Director of Food Services

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Student Engagement

The Dining Hall prepares produce that students have grown and harvested from the school's Farm and Garden. This takes the form of specialty dishes prepared for “Tasting Tables” to provide students and faculty the opportunity to taste items grown on campus and dishes they may not have experience with (e.g., vichyssoise made from school-grown potatoes, beet juice, radish green chimichurri, kale salad with sweet curry dressing, squash bread, marigold petal raisin white chocolate).

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Student Organized Food Waste Audit

Each school year, students in the Environmental Interest Group organize a waste audit to better understand student and faculty food waste habits in the Dining Hall, with a view to reducing waste. For an entire week, they asked students and faculty put and food waste from lunch in grade-level and faculty specific compost bins. Each day, students weighed and charted the lunchtime food waste. The total lunch-related waste from students and faculty over five days was 230, or roughly 0.4 pounds per person per week.