If you are looking for inspiration, check out these projects to reduce food waste, increase access to plant-based foods, and build a better food system that are happening on college campuses across the country:
Boston University incorporates Make a Difference Monday, a day for serving organic and sustainable foods with a lower carbon footprint. The university also buys locally grown and processed foods from farms and farmers markets. Nearly all of the pre- and post-consumer waste is composted and resold as soil.
Eastern Michigan University hosts a Vitalizing Veggies Teaching Kitchen. The Teaching Kitchen is a collaborative space for students and guests to explore foods they love, as well as learn culinary skills from talented chefs. This month's theme helped educate guests on the nutritional importance of vegetables with a hands-on creation of stir-fried chicken and veggie lettuce wraps. More than 20 partner colleges across the country participated in this Teaching Kitchen event.
Georgetown University purchases local produce, dairy and baked goods, as well as organic vegetables and milk. All seafood served in Leo's Dining Hall meets Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guidelines. All coffee served in Leo's Dining Hall is certified Fair Trade. Vegan and vegetarian offerings are available daily in all dining halls. Georgetown has trayless dining and reusable to-go containers; recycles bottles and cans; recycles cooking oil into biofuel; composts; and reports, tracks, and measures waste. Georgetown also donates food to the DC Kitchen and Georgetown’s Mobile Soup Kitchen.
Rice University introduces plant-based lunch meats and cheeses made from scratch on campus. This first-of-its-kind program includes recipes developed by the campus chef.
University of Massachusetts at Amherst participates in the Real Food Challenge, which requires 20 percent of the university’s food purchases to be local/community based, ecologically sound and humane. The university also converts underused grass lawns on campus into edible gardens.
The University of Virginia recently converted all its beef burgers to blended burgers (20 percent mushroom, 80 percent local beef), and in the spring of 2019, UVA Dining started “Plant-Forward Fridays” at all three main dining halls. The campus also has a Sustainable Food Action Plan.
Campus Garden Connections is a student group that maintains a campus garden and local farm. The university uses the locations for garden education and uses the harvested food for campus soup days. Other harvested foods are donated to the local community kitchen.
University of Oregon has a Grow Pod that allows them to grow common garden crops in a shipping container that is fitted to support high-productivity food growth. This allows the university to research, educate and engage students with the concept of sustainable food in a new way.
REDUCING FOOD WASTE
Christopher Newport University’s dining program has carried out many sustainability measures. To combat food waste, the university uses a trayless dining program and donates leftover food to a local homeless shelter. Dining Services also recycles approximately 1,600 pounds of cooking oil per month. Additionally, the university is transitioning to more sustainable disposable items, like biodegradable, fiber to-go containers and plant-based, compostable coffee cups.
Portland State University reduces food waste through a program that tracks waste from the kitchen and the consumer and raises employee awareness about serving size. The university is also increasing vegan options and testing new recipes, as well as partnering with Imperfect Produce to rescue fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be wasted due to irregularities in appearance.
University of California, Davis is dedicated to all aspects of sustainability in dining and waste production. All buildings are energy efficient, being minimum-certified LEED Silver. The university reduces water consumption through efforts like trayless dining, low-flow motion sensor nozzles and water recirculation. UC Davis, along with the entire UC system, is also committed to becoming a zero-waste campus by 2020. Sustainable dining efforts at Davis include organic waste composting, quarterly waste audits as well as supporting local growers and producers practicing sustainable agriculture methods. Additionally, the university donates leftover food and other products to local food banks.
University of Maine collects pre-consumer compost and combines it with horse bedding and wood chips.The university’s Earth Flow In-Vessel composting system automates mixing, aeration and moisture to rapidly compost one ton of food waste per day. The system allows them to develop compost, even in freezing temperatures.