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The Good Food Garden, a student-run space that grows fruits and vegetables in spring, summer, and fall. 

Swarthmore is committed to a healthy, equitable food system that enhances the well-being of our community and supports our sustainability goals. Read on to learn about how dining services, student groups, campus projects, and community groups work to create a thriving, sustainable food system.

Reusable Takeout Container Program 2021

The Office of Sustainability and Dining Services are excited to announce the launch of a 100-participant pilot program for reusable takeout containers, based out of Sharples. The goal of the program is to improve our campus community's takeout and waste sorting experience, and reduce the total amount of waste we generate. A single reusable container can replace up to one thousand disposable containers! This pilot program will help the Office of Sustainability and Dining Services with the design and implementation of a permanent reusable takeout container system that will hopefully meet the entire campus community's needs, and be based out of our new Dining Hall when it opens. 

Information for participants:

1. You will have a dedicated meal plan added to your Onecard account, and notified when it is activated. 

2. The meal plan will start with a balance of 2 'tokens', which each represent a single reusable container that can be checked out. 

3. To get a reusable container, simply make your meal reservation on GET as normal, and inform the cashier that you are part of the reusable program. You will be asked to swipe your card (and a token will be removed from your balance), and then you will be able to take a container downstairs to the food serving area. Please only use one reusable container per meal! 

4. To return a reusable container (or multiple), bring it to the cashiers, place it in the collection bin, and ask to have a token refunded. You will be asked to swipe your card to complete the transaction (a token will be added to your balance). 

5. You do not have to wash your containers before returning them! Please report any lost / found containers to - DO NOT attempt to replace your lost container with another, OR return someone else's container for them. DO NOT collect found containers that may appear to be lost. 

6. Please feel free to reach out to with any questions or concerns!

Sustainable Dining Services

Dining Services strives to uphold the College's commitment to sustainability by sourcing locally produced foods, reducing waste and conserving resources. You can learn more about sustainability in dining services by visiting their website. Sustainability highlights from Dining Services include: 

Compostable or reusable food packaging: Our secondary dining facilities, including Essie Mae's Snack Bar, Kohlberg Coffee Bar, and the Science Center Coffee Bar, offer compostable packaging for many of its items. Sharples Dining Hall uses reusable plates, cups, utensils. For takeout, compostable clamshell containers, cups, soup containers, and paper straws are provided. For more information about how dining services has reduced the use of non-compostable materials, click here.

Commitment to compost: The College works with Kitchen Harvest, a local, family-owned business, to compost kitchen and post-consumer waste collected throughout campus. The compost is sorted by Green Advisors on campus, transported and processed by Kitchen Harvest, and eventually used at a family farm located in Middletown, PA. In 2018, Kitchen Harvest collected almost 310,00 pounds of compostable waste. On an annual basis, that works out to about 110 pounds of compostable waste per student, faculty, and staff. For more information about our waste on campus, click here. 

Local food procurement: Dining Services has a team of dedicated staff that purchases ingredients, prepares and cooks meals, and serves more than 4,500 meals per day. These staff have developed relationships with local farmers and bakers, who provide food such as cage-free egg from Sandy Ridge Farm, bread from Le Bus Bakery, and fresh apples from Beechwood Orchards. In addition to buying directly from local food producers, Dining Services is proud to work with a number of local, privately owned and operated food distributors. Each of these companies feature locally produced items, provide employment to area residents, and support their communities. For more information, click here.

Dining and Community Commons Project: This project includes the construction of a new dining facility and renovation of the existing Sharples as a student-focused commons. The new dining facility will open in 2022, and the renovated Sharples commons will open in 2023. The building has been designed with a goal of net-zero carbon emissions and contains infrastructure to support the “Roadmap to Zero,” our energy master plan designed to reimagine our approach to powering, heating, and cooling campus and realize our commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2035. Learn more here.

Student Groups

While many student groups host events with food, EAT and the Good Food Project focus specifically on aspects of growing, cooking, and eating healthy and delicious food. You can learn more about EAT, the Good Food Project, and other sustainability-related groups here.

Swarthmore Farmers Market

The Swarthmore Farmers Market takes place in downtown Swarthmore at Central Park (121 Park Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081) every Saturday from 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM between May 11 and December 7. For more information about the Farmers Market, click here


Harvest Dinner

This yearly tradition brings the Swarthmore community together to celebrate fall with locally sourced seasonal specials, and to showcase the delicious local foods that Dining Services regularly serves.


Local Food

In addition to buying directly from a number of local farmers and food producers, Dining Services is proud to work with numerous local, privately owned and operated food distributors. Each of these companies feature locally produced items, provide employment to area residents, and support communities in our region. Dining Services is dedicated to providing as much food as possible that is locally sourced, environmentally sustainable, and produced in equitable and safe work environments.