The Best College Earth Week Food Fests

For more Earth Day Activities, check out There Is No Planet B

College years are the days of free food. And free food is even better when it’s sustainable! That’s where Earth Week comes in toplay. Knowing full well that university events will be better attended when there is food, Earth Week coordinators at universities all over the country have come up with ways to feature delicious, responsible meals.

This year, Earth Day is April 22nd, but die-harders like to extend the party throughout the week (and sometimes throughout the month!). And, as college students, we shan’t complain about keeping the party alive. Here are some excellent examples of good food you can get at a few earth-loving and festive East Coast schools.

If your school doesn’t have anything like this, these should give you some good ideas for the future. And if you can’t attend any of these due to location or, um, schoolwork, try making a meal out of some of the ingredients sold or  grown on or near your local college garden or farm. See below for one inspiration on home / dorm variations!

In my neck of the woods, students have turned dining halls into sustainable food havens for Earth Week. A brunch with compost workshops and a dinner serving free-range and grass-fed meats, with compost trivia tables that hand out seedlings in organic compost as prizes, a local Community Supported Agriculture with farm-fresh-food demonstrations and information about Hyrdrofracking in NY State. This all takes places among a two-week-long Earth “Week,” which is full of events with free catered food, including panels and banquet! Check out the calendar to find out other NYU Earth Week events, and it’s probably a safe bet that most of the events not geared directly toward food will have hors d’oeuvres that any college student can easily make into an appetizer, if not a full meal itself!


The Yale Sustainable Food Project may have outdone us all with its 4th annual Last Day of Classes Jack Hitt Pig Roast. That’s right. They roast a 122 pound pig. For 12 hours! Talk about keeping it local–they named the event after New Haven native, Jack Hitt, who guided students through the first roast four years ago and continues to help. According to Zan of the Yale Sustainable Food Project, the students do all of the roasting themselves–and why not…classes are over, after all–as well as prepare the all vegetarian sides and desserts. She reports, “This year we’re trying to make the menu as seasonal and local as possible, with roasted pork accompanied by homemade barbecue sauce, cornbread, baked beans made from Yale Farm dried beans, carrot slaw made from carrots from our neighbors at Massaro Community Farm, and a rhubarb crumble. We’ll have educational materials on hand to help students better understand the sourcing decisions we’ve made and how the food was prepared.” Right on!

Columbia’s Food Sustainability Project will close out Columbia’s Earth Week at the Columbia Community Garden. They’ll have the event in their own community garden, and they’ll be supporting their local food economy by having their sustainable food catered by a local Harlem caterer and by allowing people to sign up at the even for shares in the Morningside Heights CSA. To get your appetite going, you can get to work in the garden with some middle and high school students from nearby schools who will join Columbia and help out with educational workshops for any gardening newcomers! While you gain back those calories and eat a delicious catered feast, feel free to burn them right back off by boogie-ing down to some Columbia bands, including the very pun-ny Bluegrass Band Lion in the Grass. But who cares about calories anyway? This is college. Eat, eat, eat! (And learn!)

If you don’t make it to any events, here a thought: try making something at home out of the farm fresh ingredients found in or near these college gardens and farms. A salad of cooked beans and sliced carrots (YSFP), chopped pepper and tomato (NYU Comm Ag) and fresh lettuce (Columbia FSP) can make a delicious and simple salad. No microwaves needed!

Happy Earth Day!


Originally posted on Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

One Response to “The Best College Earth Week Food Fests”

  1. Michelle

    April 25th, 2011

    NYU Earth Week was incredible! Wish it was a year-round event.

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