Serving local pro­duce has been a focal point in Northeastern’s dining halls for many years, and now a new part­ner­ship will con­tinue this com­mit­ment to bring stu­dents quality food from the sur­rounding area.

Starting this month, North­eastern is part­nering with the Mass­a­chu­setts Farm to School Project and its Har­vest of the Month cam­paign to pro­mote healthy food choices by stu­dents and edu­cate them about local pro­duce. Through this part­ner­ship, the uni­ver­sity will incor­po­rate a selected fruit or veg­etable into recipes that call for the ingredient.

All three of the university’s res­i­den­tial dining halls—Stetson East, Stetson West, and Inter­na­tional Village—now fea­ture sig­nage pro­moting September’s pro­duce selec­tion: tomatoes.

Part­nering with the Mass­a­chu­setts Farm to School Project aligns nicely with what we’ve been com­mitted to for years,” said Mau­reen Tim­mons, director of Dining Ser­vices.

Tom Barton, campus exec­u­tive chef, said it’s as simple as using toma­toes in the dining halls’ delis. “Local toma­toes will be incor­po­rated into many of our recipes that call for them,” noted Barton.

The cam­paign runs from Sep­tember to Feb­ruary, and future pro­duce of the month selec­tions include car­rots, kale, but­ternut squash, and pears.

Buying local pro­duce is among the many ini­tia­tives North­eastern Dining Ser­vices has adopted to make the uni­ver­sity a “greener” campus. According to the Dining Service’s Green Plan, 165,000 pounds of locally grown pro­duce was served at North­eastern from July 2011 to June 2012.

The uni­ver­sity has been buying local pro­duce for many years, Barton said, and it works with a Roxbury-​​based vendor called FoodEx that delivers food from local farms to the university.

It is good busi­ness in terms of sup­porting your local farmer,” Barton said. “It travels less and is fresher when it gets here. And, because it is such a short growing season in Mass­a­chu­setts, I think we have better and more direct access to pro­duce when it’s ready.”

This week North­eastern will get pro­duce from farms in West­port, Mass., Hadley, Mass., and North­bor­ough, Mass.

Tim­mons said by part­nering with Mass­a­chu­setts Farms to Schools, North­eastern will con­tinue its momentum toward going green, while also edu­cating stu­dents about what foods are in season in the local area.
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“Our stu­dents join us from around the globe and across the country and may not be aware of what items are sea­sonal in New Eng­land in the fall,” she said. “We’re excited about the oppor­tu­nity to share the best pro­duce avail­able locally in season.”