This page uses data from FINE’s 2015 Farm to College Survey (see detailed report here – add link). The 25-question survey collected data regarding characteristics of dining services, local foods used in dining services and future procurement needs, barriers to purchasing local foods, and whether the campus had a farm or garden. The survey was sent to 209 colleges and 105 responded to the survey, a 50% response rate. All but five of the colleges reported that they purchased local foods for their dining services program. 

The original survey tool and the clean raw data are available for download on our data sources page. Please note that this data is self-reported and may conflict with other data sources. 


In March 2017, we released a research report titled "Campus Dining 101: A Benchmark Study on Farm to College in New England." This report is one in a series of reports designed to help food system stakeholders understand the impact of institutional markets on New England's food system.


New England Colleges Responding to Survey that Purchase Local Food

Nearly all responding colleges stated that they already purchased local food. Amount of local food purchased varied widely. Only five respondents reported that they did not currently purchase any local food. 

Colleges Buy Local Food from Several Different Sources

Participating colleges reported procuring directly from an average of three producers, one producer cooperative (which represents multiple producers), and two local food processors.

How Colleges Define Local 

Many of the Surveyed Colleges Defined Local Food as Produced Within a 250-mile Radius, Within the State, or Within New England. 

Colleges Buy A Large Variety of Local Food

More than a fifth of responding colleges listed local apples, milk, produce, and potatoes in the top five local food products purchased. 

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Surveyed Colleges Reported Poultry, Meat, and Eggs as the Most Difficult Products to Source Locally

A focus on the blue portion of the bar chart below provides a snapshot of the local products that colleges reported having the most difficulty sourcing. Local vegetables and dairy were relatively easy for colleges to source.  

Year-Round Availability and High Prices Point are the Two Biggest Barriers

Top barriers to purchasing local foods reported by responding colleges included distributor's availability throughout the year, price of local foods. sufficient volume from distributors, distributors' availability of locally processed foods, and distributor's variety of local foods. Other possible barriers presented by the survey were less likely to be perceived to be major.  

An Average of 41% of the Colleges Surveyed Reported that their Campus had an Onsite Garden or Farm

Ninety-one percent of those colleges reporting having onsite gardens or farms indicated that they utilized at least some amount of produce grown on campus in their dining services.