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The Henry P. Kendall Foundation announced the 2018 winners of the New England Food Vision prize, a $250,000 award designed to raise awareness of the environmental, economic, and health impacts of our food choices, support regional agricultural resiliency, and use the purchasing power of institutions to influence the hearts and minds of consumers. The Foundation challenged university and college dining service teams across the region to team up with at least one peer institution to identify collaborative solutions to shared challenges of offering more regionally-produced food on their menus.

Campus food service directors were eligible to submit ideas for consideration. To qualify, ideas had to meet five areas of criteria. The Foundation received letters of interest from teams representing 37 New England higher education institutions. Fourteen teams representing 30 schools and several community partners were invited as finalists to submit full proposals. The Foundation is pleased to announce that each of the following five teams will receive a $250,000 prize to implement their proposed projects:

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Northeastern University, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and Eastern Connecticut State University will join forces with Chartwells, Ipswich Fish, the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center, Red’s Best, Farm Fresh Rhode Island, New Bedford Port Authority, and Buyers & Sellers Seafood Auction (BASE) to improve sourcing and purchasing systems. System changes will allow greater incorporation of traceable local fish on campus menus with an emphasis on underutilized and abundant species. The institutional partners have committed that 75% of all fish served on each campus will be locally sourced.

Rhode Island School of Design and Johnson & Wales University will team up to develop products for Farm Fresh Rhode Island that are specifically targeted to the large-volume needs of institutional dining and will replace current purchases with items that are abundant locally in New England. Central to the team’s project is the opportunity to use significant amounts of surplus produce that might otherwise be composted or go to waste.

Smith College, Westfield State University, and Mount Holyoke College will work with The Hotchkiss School, Whippoorwill Farm, and Adams Farm to develop a replicable model for upscaling the procurement of whole animals for nose-to-tail utilization in campus dining. The project will support farmers in the region to adjust their production and delivery to meet institutional demand and enable the institutions involved to process and store large volumes of beef and pork in a way not possible today.

Harvard University, Boston College, and Tufts University will work with the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, Costa Fruit & Produce, and CommonWealth Kitchen to bridge our region's seasonal growing gap by incentivizing small-scale New England farmers to farm additional plots of land or construct greenhouses or hoop houses on their land to grow specific crops (and where possible year-round) for our campuses, expanding acres of farmland in production so that students will be able to enjoy more of the region's bounty year-round.

Massachusetts Maritime Academy, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Northeastern University, and Eastern Connecticut State University will work with Chartwells, Farm Fresh Rhode Island, Sardilli Produce, and Dole & Bailey to introduce students to the use of kelp in recipes and meals, broadening consumer knowledge, increasing demand for an abundant New England sea vegetable, and expanding the versatility of kelp as a staple ingredient in the dining choices available at these campuses and beyond.

The New England Food Vision Prize is designed to accelerate progress towards the New England Food Vision, a regional goal to produce at least 50% of New England’s own food by 2060, while supporting healthy food for all, sustainable farming and fishing, and creating thriving communities. One high-leverage strategy to accelerate the region towards this goal is to unlock the market power of large food purchasers, like colleges and universities. The Prize is designed to support ideas that result in higher procurement of regional food by institutions, more regional food on campus menus, and increased demand for regional food by students while on campus and beyond the campus as alumnae.

The Foundation intends to offer this Prize annually through 2023, offering up to $6 million in awards to improve the health and sustainability of the New England food system.