JWU, RISD and Farm Fresh RI Share 2018 Food Vision Prize

Students at McNulty dining hall.

The combined power of two of the region’s prominent higher education institutions — one an internationally recognized food authority, one an internationally recognized design authority — and a venerable local food hub is changing the way college students eat.

Johnson & Wales University (JWU), Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Farm Fresh RI will share a 2018 New England Food Vision Prize, a $250,000 award from the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, to encourage colleges and universities to increase the amount of regionally-produced food on campus menus.


The award will support a two-year collaboration to research and develop food products that will be tested and integrated into the dining services at each campus with subsequent plans for distribution through Farm Fresh RI.

Under the direction of Amanda Rotondi, director of Campus Dining at JWU and Ginnie Dunleavy, executive director for Auxiliary Services at RISD, food products specifically targeted to the large-volume needs of university dining will be developed, replacing current purchases with items that are abundant locally in New England. Central to the team’s project is the opportunity to use significant amounts of surplus produce that might otherwise be disposed or composted.

“This award is a bonus for Rhode Island,” Jesse Rye, co-executive director of Farm Fresh RI, says. “The combined powerhouse of JWU and RISD faculty and students will innovate local food choices for the demanding palates of our region’s college students — with the goal to optimize efforts so they benefit the regional agricultural community as well as Rhode Island businesses and consumers.”

JWU and RISD dining programs are one of five New England multi-institution teams receiving awards this year. Last April, the Foundation challenged foodservice leaders from the region’s more than 200 college and university campuses to submit bold, collaborative, catalytic ideas for consideration. The New England Food Vision Prize is designed to accelerate progress towards the New England Food Vision, a regional goal to produce at least 50 percent of New England’s own food by 2060, while supporting healthy food for all, sustainable farming and fishing, and creating thriving communities.

One high-leverage strategy to accelerate the region towards this goal is to unlock the market power of large food purchasers, such as colleges and universities. The Prize is designed to support ideas that result in higher procurement of regionally grown and produced food by institutions, more regional food on campus menus, and increased demand for regional food by students while on campus and beyond as alumni.

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation is a New England philanthropic enterprise that is part of a strong and rapidly expanding network aiming to create a resilient and healthy New England food system.

“For more than 60 years, the H.P. Kendall Foundation has supported visionary projects and leaders,” said Foundation Executive Director Andrew Kendall.  “By leveraging the large-scale buying power of the region’s colleges and universities, we can create the consistent long-term demand local farmers, fishers, and ranchers need to sustain and grow their operations. The ideas represented by this round’s winners reflect the kind of ingenuity we need to build a healthier, more sustainable food system in our region.”

JWU winner of the Kendall Foundation prize.