Sustainable Food on Campus (part 2)

Farmer’s Market, University of San Diego

Food is one of the 7 critical issues bring discussed at the upcoming Rio+20 summit taking place this June in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. As the Rio+20 site states, “It is time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food,” and, in this two part blog, we will be looking at a range of ways that university campuses are doing just that throughout their operations.

Community Gardens

With the increased push to provide more locally produced food, some campuses are taking matters into their own hands by creating gardens where students and staff grow some of the vegetables and produce consumed in the cafeterias. Royal Holloway School of Management has launched its Campus Community Garden to encourage students to grow and eat their own fresh vegetables. With help from the College’s gardeners, an area of wasteland on campus, measuring 152 square meters, has been turned into vegetable patches ready for students to cultivate. SLUG (Student Led Unity Garden) at the University of Portland is an organic, sustainable garden started in 2006 by a small group of students. The University of Victoria Campus Community Garden provides a range of introductory gardening workshops. The school provides 90 plots at the gardens, including individual allotment gardens, communal gardens for volunteers and food bank donations and garden plots used by advocacy groups and classes.

Farmers Markets

A growing number of schools are also providing space for farmers markets, where local farmers and producers can sell their products. The University of San Diego started a market in 2009 that provides fresh fruit and vegetables and food cooked on site on Wednesdays from 11-2pm. The University of London  also has a certified organic farmers market on campus, where students can grab their lunch every Thursday.

Celebrating Progress made

Copenhagen Business School celebrates Sustainable Food Day on campus. The day gives students the opportunity to sample delicious sustainable foods while becoming better informed about the links between social entrepreneurship and sustainable food production. It also gives students and staff the opportunity to interact with innovators who have turned their passion for sustainable food into profitable businesses. EM Strasbourg has been organising annual eco-banquets for volunteers who had taken part in actions dedicated to sustainable development in the School through the year. Each participant is able to discover the regional specialties and chat over a glass of organic cider and fair trade apple juice. The banquet is also an opportunity to speak about progress made on sustainable development projects over the previous year.

Giving back to the community
Campuses are not just looking at food on campus, but how to help ensure food donations for local charities. Students from Marketing Institute of Singapore Training Center had a Food donation drive in support of a local charity called Food from the Heart. They also partnered with the Singapore Environment Council to deliver a talk on “Being a Responsible Consumer by Going Green” to enhance understanding of the impact of food choices. “Food Fight” is an annual tradition in which a number of MBA programs across the US, including the University of Michigan, compete to see who can raise the most food to donate to local communities in need. The school that collects the most food (total or per student) wins money to donate to the charity of their choice and a coveted trophy. Staff, faculty and students at Grenoble Ecole de Management worked with Danone, an international food company, on a humanitarian project to collect food for the Restaurants du Cœur, a nationwide association that distributes meals and food to those in need.


For more on the Rio+20 theme of Food, read the Issue Brief prepared by UN-DESA visit the Rio+20 site.

Sustainable Food on Campus (part 1)

Addie's Cafe, Boston College

Food is one of the 7 critical issues bring discussed at the upcoming Rio+20 summit taking place this June in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. As the Rio+20 site states, “It is time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food,” and, in this two part blog, we will be looking at a range of ways that university campuses are doing just that throughout their operations.

Campuses are taking a closer look at the kinds of food that they offer in their dining facilities. This includes, but isn’t limited to, sourcing food locally, from within 100km, buying certified organic or fair trade, sustainable fish certification through the Marine Stewardship Council, adapting menus based on the availability of seasonal product and using free-range eggs.

A focus on local

Many are putting in place comprehensive policies around food sourcing. At Audencia Nantes School of Business, all coffee, teas and juices have been fair trade since 2005. The University of Calgary’s dining services purchase local and organic products as well as sustainably harvested seafood items and fair trade coffee and tea. Grenoble Ecole de Management has a number of initiatives that have been undertaken by staff and students to promote the integration of fair trade and organic products in the School’s vending machines and cafeterias.

Following external certifications

Several campuses have chosen not to do this alone but to also work with external organisations and groups that are working to make dining facilities more sustainable. The University of Gloucestershire is working towards the Soil Association Food for Life Partnership catering mark, an independent guarantee that what’s on the menu is freshly prepared, free from undesirable additives and better for animal welfare. The University of Winchester currently has this mark for its conference and hospitality menus. At the University of California, by 2020, 20 percent of the purchases made in the dining facilities and fast food franchises on all campuses will meet one or more of 16 sustainable food criteria set by the Real Food Challenge, a national activist network focused on steering American colleges and universities toward sustainability.

Minimising food waste

Campuses are also looking at how to minimise food waste. Many already provide composting facilities on campus as well as recycling in cafeterias and dining facilities. The University of California significantly reduced food waste by ditching dining trays, which they found led most diners to opt for less food per meal. At Richard Ivey School of Business, Styrofoam was eliminated from residence dining halls and replaced with bio-degradable and compostable take out containers. Discounts are also provided to customers who purchase hot beverages with a travel mug.

Student Led Initiatives

Many of these initiatives around food on campus are being driven by the students themselves in collaboration with staff and dining facilities. Students at Boston College started Real Food BC, an organisation that works to promote the purchasing of food from local, green, humane sources in order to support localised food production and reduce carbon emissions associated with long-distance food shipment. Members, in collaboration with dining services, created Addie’s Loft, an organic eatery on campus that offers food from local and sustainable sources.

For more on the Rio+20 theme of Food, read the Issue Brief prepared by UN-DESA and visit the Rio+20 site.

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