Agriculture is one of the larger causes of social, environmental and health problems worldwide, and so we can take a stand for a better world with each meal we have together. Our Dining Services here at UMass Lowell are working to make our food and beverage purchasing as sustainable as possible.

AASHE STARS's food and beverage purchasing guidelines recommend using the Real Food Standards to achieve such goals. By doing so, we work to provide fresh, healthy, ethical, and sustainable food throughout the campus’s dining halls and eateries.

These guidelines are still relevant when you leave the dining hall, though! When you purchase food on your own that satisfies these standards, you’re helping to make the world a better place with every bite you take!

Alternatives to Food Shopping

It is actually possible to get fresh, healthy, and local food without shopping!

Gardening, foraging, and hunting can save you money while also getting you outside and better connected to nature. If you are interested in this, see if you can get a plot in our Community Gardens and/or check out informational programs that Mill City Grows offers on these subjects!

The Real Food Standards

The Real Food Standards base food purchases off of standards and certifications that fall under the following four categories. They see whether the food was produced in a Local and Community-Based, Fair, Ecologically Sound, and Humane fashion.

The Real Food Standards list factors that either give a product a green light, a yellow light, or a disqualification of said product as “real food” under each of these categories. Below are a variety of those beneficial certifications that some of the products we purchase qualify for, and a deeper dive into local food purchasing!

What We're Doing

Our Urban Agriculture and Sustainability program is working to further increase the community-building, locally and organically grown produce that feeds our campus. For more information on what UMass Lowell does to increase sustainability, please check out the Dining Services webpage!