Local and Healthy Foods


Serving more than 2,500 meals a day involves a vast amount of resources and preparation. Saint John’s University Dining Service is committed to placing an emphasis on buying local and increasing the amount of sustainably grown food served on campus.

The food we eat typically travels a great distance from where it is grown, which requires large quantities of energy and fuel. Local foods drastically cut down on the distance from field to plate and in doing so reduces its effects on the environment. Buying local also keeps money circulating in the local economy. 

Saint John's depends on a robust local and healthy community and aims to support it in the following ways:

  • Saint John’s University Dining Services made it a goal to have 20% of its food come from local sources.  We are getting very close to achieving that goal. As of January 2015, 19.47% of the food served annually is locally sourced!
  • Saint John’s Abbey and University have invested in the construction of an on-campus winter solar greenhouse started by the McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship. Members of the two Eco-houses at SJU are responsible for managing the greenhouse to produce the freshest winter greens possible to be served in the campus dining centers.
  • Saint John's Dining Services buys lettuce from our winter solar greenhouse which was built in 2013.  Due to the incredible freshness and to support a student lead initiative, Dining Services pays 10% above market price for the produce.
  • Our Dietitian and Dining Staff highlight nutrition and healthy eating habits through education and events like Fryless Fridays and Local Food Days.
  • The St. Joseph Farmer’s Market and the Minnesota Street Market (the local co-op in St. Joseph) are local establishments where our students can purchase food from our immediate community all year long.
  • Saint John’s Abbey cultivates a two-acre garden to provide fresh produce for the monastic community. It produces over 4,000 lbs. of produce annually.
  • Along with serving local and healthy food, Saint John’s University Dining Service also recycles its food waste by sending it to local pig farmers. On a yearly basis we recycle over 117 tons of food waste.
  • Saint John's University Dining Service works with Filta Services to extend the life of oil used in its deep fryers and turn used oil into biofuel. From August to Decemember 2019, Filta helped save SJU 1,768 pounds of oil and turn 3,513 pounds on oil into biofuel. This resulted in a reduction of 10,690 pounds of green house gases which is the equivalent of planting 533 trees!