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We’re excited to welcome Villanova University to Farm Forward’s Leadership Circle. Villanova Dining Services has committed to source 100% of its eggs from sources that, at a minimum, meet Certified Humane (CH) cage-free standards. After conversations with our staff, Villanova started sourcing all of their shell eggs from a CH Pasture Raised egg supplier, Vital Farms. Villanova is the first university of its size to source all shell eggs from hens raised in certified pasture-based systems, a decision that raises the bar for institutional food procurement commitments across the country.
Pasture-raised eggs are a significant step up from cage-free eggs when it comes to animal welfare (and, research suggests, the nutritional profile of the end product1 as well). While cage-free eggs can still come from farms where birds never see the outdoors, pasture-raised hens spend most of their time outside, exhibiting natural behaviors (like foraging for bugs and insects) with plenty of space. Villanova’s support for a pasture-raised egg company may also have ripple effects for other food buyers: by convincing their food distributor to carry new pasture-raised egg products, Villanova is paving the way to making pasture-raised products available to other institutions and large buyers.
Villanova’s membership in the Leadership Circle aligns well with the university’s “VEG” program, which promotes healthy and sustainable eating. By offering delicious plant-forward menu options, the VEG program has led to an increase in produce purchases and has increased student satisfaction with on-campus dining. Joining the Leadership Circle and committing to purchase certified higher welfare eggs will help Villanova focus on sourcing “less and better” animal products.
Our team looks forward to working with Villanova and supporting other universities that wish to build a higher welfare, more sustainable food system through their food purchasing practices. Please reach out if you’d like to learn more, or are interested in joining our Leadership Circle program.
HD Karsten, PH Patterson, R Stout, and G Crews, “Vitamins A, E and fatty acid composition of the eggs of caged hens and pastured hens,” Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 2010, 25(1):45-54 here.