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Featured news item: Earth Day: Sustainability in action

Ohio State's Food Sustainability Panel


Strategy Report for Local/Sustainable Food Accepted by University 

November 14, 2019

Food is a significant driver of global sustainability outcomes, and Ohio State recognizes the importance of students developing a lifelong appreciation for how their meal choices have larger social and environmental impacts.

To facilitate that education, Ohio State aims to increase the amount of local and sustainable food options it provides across its dining facilities to equal at least 40% of its food offerings within the next six years. Achieving that goal would place Ohio State among the leaders in higher education, particularly for large research institutions.

In addition, the university intends to expand student engagement through food-focused curriculum and on-campus experiential learning opportunities.

Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce McPheron and Interim Senior Vice President of Student Life Molly Calhoun in October accepted a report that details the pathway for Ohio State to achieve the 40% goal and related academic engagement.

A panel comprised of faculty, students, staff and external stakeholders engaged in over two years of intensive study, looking at current food sources and procurement practices, sustainability certification programs, and alternative strategies for achieving the goal, and wrote the“Purchasing 40 Percent Local and/or Sustainable Food by 2025 ” report.


Read the complete news release.

Ohio State's Food Sustainability Panel

The Ohio State University has a tremendous opportunity to become a leader in addressing one of the most important challenges of our time: feeding a growing population in a manner that ensures human health; the economic viability of food producers, processors and distributors; and stewardship of the earth’s limited natural resources.

Ohio State established strategic sustainability goals to move the university toward a global model of sustainable operations and practices. University leaders have supported an initiative through the Discovery Themes to transform food systems on campus, in the community, and across Ohio and beyond to achieve food security and promote good health.

Ohio State's Food Sustainability Panel was created to develop a strategic plan for our dining halls and other places on campus that serve food as the university seeks to move toward our goal of 40% local and/or sustainably sourced food by 2025. The panel’s role is to propose action items and guidelines as appropriate as the university works to achieve the sustainable food goal.

Ohio Farm to Cafeteria Pre-Conference and Policy Forum, April 25

The forum, led by the Ohio Farm to School Leadership Team in partnership with Ohio State’s Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) program, is set for Wednesday (4/25) 3 to 8 p.m. at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati. The Ohio-focused event will actively engage the community in meaningful discussion about current and emerging issues, opportunities, challenges and barriers, and policy development related to serving local foods in schools.
Read more


Keep up with our progress. Read our Local and/or Sustainable Food by 2025 reports here:

Read the June 2017 Local and/or Sustainable Food by 2025 Report Update

Read the September 2016 Local and/or Sustainable Food by 2025 Report

Have an idea? Question?
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About the Food Sustainability Panel

Representatives, August 2017
  • Kate Bartter, Director, Office of Energy and Environment
  • Matt Brown,  Planning Administrator, Franklin County Economic Development & Planning Department
  • Molly Calhoun, Associate VP, Student Life
  • Jill Clark, John Glenn College of Public Affairs
  • Mike Folino, Associate Director, Hospital Nutrition Services, Wexner Medical Center (alternate)
  • Emily Hayden, Residence Halls Advisory Council*
  • Tyler Hoerst, USG Sustainability Committee* (alternate) 
  • Lesa Holford, Associate Director, Dining Services (alternate) 
  • Casey Hoy, InFACT Faculty Director
  • Julie Jones, Director, Hospital Dietetics, Wexner Medical Center
  • Nicholas Kawa, Department of Anthropology
  • Kate Larson, Residence Halls Advisory Council* (alternate)
  • Tom Reeves, Director, Energy Management and Sustainability, Student Life (alternate)
  • Mallory Reynolds, USG Sustainability Committee*
  • Ryan Schmiesing, Associate Provost, Academic Affairs, Assistant Dean
  • Mike Shelton, Associate Director, Office of Energy and Environment (alternate)
  • Colleen Spees, School of Health and Rehabilitation Services
  • Leslie Schaller, Program Director, ACEnet
  • Kareem Usher, Knowlton School of Architecture
  • Thelma Velez, Council of Graduate Students*
  • David Wituszynski, Council of Graduate Students*


Food Sustainability Panel Governing Documents and Meeting Minutes

 Agenda and Meeting Minutes (Dec. 4, 2018)

Agenda and Meeting Minutes (Oct. 23, 2018)

Agenda and Meeting Minutes (Sept. 26, 2018)
Agenda and Meeting Minutes (August 30, 2018)
Agenda and Meeting Minutes (April 23, 2018)
Agenda and Meeting Minutes (March 26, 2018)
Agenda and Meeting Minutes (Feb. 26, 2018)
Agenda and Meeting Minutes (Jan. 29,2018)
Agenda and Meeting Minutes  (Dec. 7, 2017)
Agenda and Meeting Minutes (Nov. 27, 2017)
Agenda and Meeting Minutes (Nov. 13,2017)
 Agenda and Meeting Minutes (Oct. 23, 2017)
Panel on Food Sustainability Progress Report (June 2017)
Ohio State Food Sustainability Panel Bylaws (June 2017)
Agenda and Meeting Minutes (Oct. 9, 2017)
Agenda and Meeting Minutes (Sept. 25, 2017)
Agenda and Meeting Minutes (Sept. 11, 2017)
Agenda and Meeting Minutes (August 11, 2017)
Agenda and Meeting Minutes (July 21, 2017)

Ohio State Research News

New report focuses on the effort to solve global food and nutrition security challenges

University leaders served on Challenge of Change Commission to find solutions for food insecurity

By: Chris Booker

Published on May 19, 2017

New report provides road map to solve food insecurity

Leaders at The Ohio State University working to combat the growing problem of food insecurity have joined a comprehensive and coordinated effort to address global hunger.

The university is part of the Challenge of Change Commission. The group of university, government, non-governmental organization and business leaders is committed to solving food and nutrition security challenges in the U.S. and abroad that pose significant humanitarian, environmental and national security risks.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities convened the Challenge of Change Commission with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The commission unveiled a report in Washington, D.C., Tuesday detailing how public universities and their partners can tackle seven specific challenges of food and nutrition security. Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron and Casey Hoy, Kellogg Chair in Agricultural Ecosystems Management, served as members of the commission.

“The report hits on what is needed to work toward food security. Not just by 2050 but starting now,” said Hoy, also faculty director of the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation.

“Public research universities are especially qualified to tackle the problems of food insecurity, and by working with allies in the public and private sectors we can develop an integrated approach that will bring meaningful change,” McPheron said. “Ohio State is committed to this. As a university community, we examined the issue in depth at the Buckeye Summit last year, and the Discovery Themes program through the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation is working with local and national partners on real-world solutions.”

The numbers are startling: 42.2 million people in the Unites States faced food security issues between 2014 and 2016. Around the world, nearly 1 in 9 people deal with concerns such as hunger, obesity, malnutrition and poor sanitation.

The challenges identified in the commission report include:

  • Increasing yields, profitability and environmental sustainability simultaneously.
  • Developing the varieties and breeds needed for sustainable food systems.
  • Decreasing food loss and waste through more efficient distribution systems.
  • Creating and sharing resources that serve all populations.
  • Ensuring inclusive and equitable food systems.
  • Addressing the dual burdens of undernutrition and obesity to ensure full human potential.
  • Ensuring a safe and secure food supply that protects and improves public health.
Read more.

Ohio State Project Leverages Institutional Food Purchasing to Help Disadvantaged Families, Improve Nutrition in Columbus


With the support of a three-year $750,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, InFACT is creating a plan to develop a network of between 100 and 500 low-income families, particularly in communities of color, that could grow food and sell it to Ohio State and perhaps other institutions and businesses in the area. The goal is to provide technical assistance and training so families can start small-scale food enterprises that both supplement their income and improve their children’s nutrition.

Read more.


Picture This:  An App to Measure Food Waste

Brian Roe and his team at Ohio State's Food Waste Collaborative are developing a smartphone app that uses photos to measure food waste. A joint project with Louisiana State University, the app compares photos of a dinner plate before and after a meal and could be used to measure how much food is left and tossed in the trash. Roe, an InFACT faculty affiliate and professor of agricultural marketing and policy, has been featured in National Geographic, Newsweek and Bloomberg News. 

Ohio State Specialist Eyes Produce Safety from Greenhouse to Table

Even in the dead of winter, consumers can enjoy fresh tomatoes, peppers and other produce, often thanks to the bounty from greenhouses scattered across the continent. Sanja Ilic is trying to make sure those vegetables are the safest possible.

Ilic, the state food safety specialist for Ohio State University Extension, often works with growers to reduce the risk of foodborne illness associated with fresh produce.

“Sometimes there is a perception that risks are lower in greenhouses since the produce isn’t grown out in an open field,” Ilic said. “But the intensive production conditions in greenhouses — pooling water, high humidity and higher temperatures — are just the conditions that are conducive to the growth of microorganisms. And while contamination in a field would be sporadic, contamination in a greenhouse could become widespread and potentially have a greater impact.”


Worries about food waste appear to vanish when diners know scraps go to compost

Diners waste far less food when they’re schooled on the harm their leftovers can inflict on the environment. But if they know the food is going to be composted instead of dumped in a landfill, the educational benefit disappears.

When composting enters the picture, educated diners waste just as much as those who haven’t learned about shrinking landfill space, dangerous greenhouse gas emissions and water and soil pollution, a new study found.

This presents a tricky situation for policymakers figuring out how to manage food waste, because the top tactics are prevention (through education) and diversion (through composting), said lead researcher Danyi Qi, a graduate student in agricultural economics at The Ohio State University.

Read the complete release here.