RWU Part of Team to Win $250,000 New England Food Prize

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation award supports big ideas to increase local food on across college 
and university campuses in the region

By Public Affairs
Cows grazing in field.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – In an effort to increase local food on college campuses, Roger Williams University is part of a collaborative team that received a $250,000 prize to help grow Providence-based Narragansett Creamery’s capacity to supply cheese to area college dining halls.

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation awarded six teams of college and university dining programs, along with their community partners, as the winners of the 2019 New England Food Vision Prize. The $250,000 awards to each team will support innovative ideas among New England colleges and universities designed to improve the health, sustainability, and vitality of the region’s food system by increasing the amount of regionally produced food on campus menus. 

RWU joined Brown University and Smith College, in partnership with Narragansett Creamery, to propose using prize funds to purchase the equipment the creamery needs to supply pre-shredded mozzarella cheese for its campus accounts. As Narragansett Creamery grows this capacity, it can service other institutional customers in the region.

“The winning teams and their partners are leveraging their purchasing clout in the marketplace together with engaging their students to create the consistent, long-term demand that local farmers, fishers, and ranchers need to sustain and grow their operations,” said Foundation Executive Director Andrew Kendall. “We believe that the ideas represented by this year’s winners reflect the kind of ingenuity needed to build a healthier, sustainable food system in New England.”

RWU’s collaborative initiative impacts not only the local cheese market, but also the local milk supply. Cheese-making requires approximately eight times as much milk as does using milk directly, such as in baked goods or for drinking. This project will increase the amount of local cheese produced within the region, and, therefore, exponentially increase the amount of local milk produced and utilized.

The New England Food Vision Prize is designed to accelerate progress towards the goal of having our region produce at least 50 percent of our food by 2060, while supporting healthy food for all, sustainable farming and fishing, and thriving communities. 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. 

Winning ideas had to represent two or more campuses working together, be replicable and sustainable. Applicants also had to demonstrate how they would measure impact, and include elements of movement-building, such as growing demand or knowledge around regionally produced food.

Other winning teams included:

University of Maine at Farmington and University of Maine at Presque Isle, in partnership with the Good Shepherd Food Bank and Maine-based food producer Wyman’s.

University of Vermont and State Agricultural College and Norwich University, in partnership with Sodexo, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, the UVM Medical Center, Vermont Food Venture Center, and the Pioneer Valley Growers Association.

Babson College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Worcester State University, in partnership with Mountain Dairy.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lesley University, and Emmanuel College, in partnership with Commonwealth Kitchen, Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center, Boston Area Gleaners, and PV Grows.

Western New England University, Springfield College, and Elms College, in partnership with Aramark and Wellspring Harvest greenhouse.