Brown Dining Services (BDS) is committed to improving our local food system by developing sustainability initiatives, which work to support local farmers, reduce our waste output, and invest in fairly traded and environmentally friendly foods.

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Compost volunteers at the annual Earth Day Dinner.

In 2009, as the result of a grassroots effort by a group of students, BDS accepted the Real Food Challenge.  The students wanted BDS’ food purchasing decisions to consider four criteria:  whether foods are local, ecological, fair, and humane.  Additionally, the students wanted to be able to trace and track BDS’ purchases to determine how they stacked up to the Real Food Calculator


Brown has already surpassed its 2020 goal of sourcing 20% real food with a current standing of 22%. This has been achieved in part by sourcing 35% of its food locally, including 97% of its seafood and 95% of its cage-free eggs.  Brown’s coffee is 100% certified fair trade and 76% of its meat meet the ecologically sound criteria.

BDS’s commitment to sustainability has continued as it recently became the first organization in RI to become Green Restaurant Certified.  This certification is based on a commitment to implementing sustainable practices in food, waste, water, energy, chemicals, disposables, and building materials. 

Brown Dining Services works with a network of local and regional farmers to source local ingredients whenever possible. Some of the farms include:

For more information on BDS’s commitment to sustainability, check out the university’s annual sustainability report here: 2016 Sustainability Report.