Sustainable Mean Plan: Reducing the Waste While Reducing the Waist
In an effort to reduce the amount of food waste and encourage responsible eating among its students, Dining Services at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., launched a Sustainable Meal Plan.
The meal plan started as Sustainable Meal Week in April 2011. For five consecutive days over lunch and dinner in Hunt Dining Hall, the students, faculty and staff voluntarily suspended the traditional all-you-can-eat college meal format in favor of sustainable consumption and minimized waste by adopting a “one entrée and two sides” service reduction from the service stations in the main servery.
“It was derived as a way for us to reduce waste, reduce overconsumption and potentially have a positive financial impact on the operation,” said Tracy Hiner, director of Dining Services with Chartwells, the campus foodservice provider.
“We were working with student groups on campus as we do across all higher education when it comes to hunger awareness,” said Mary VanNortwick, wellness dietitian. “Many times the focus on hunger awareness goes abroad — people in other lands are without. Tracy and I wanted to make it relevant to our students here and now — before they could understand it abroad, that they understand it within their own community.” ...
The new Turner Place at Lavery Hall on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, was designed to be a trendsetting facility.
“We believe that this is a facility that hopefully sets the trend for more than a decade to come with these entrances, selfdeveloped concepts and national brands,” said Ted Faulkner, director for Dining Services. “We believe this is something new and unique — just as we set the trend 14 years ago when we brought West End Market on as a marche concept. No one had ever thought about bringing that to a campus.”
The planning for Turner Place began in 2005 when the university decided to close another dining center in the residential area of campus. “With that, there had been a desire to get a dining center and food service on the academic side of campus,” he said. “We didn't really have any food service on the academic side.”
After the decision was made, Dining Services started discussions with student advisory groups, and hired Porter Khouw Consulting to gather feedback from students. “They came in and did a survey with the students,” said Faulkner. “They got literally thousands of students' feedback with regard to what they would like to see from the dining program as a whole, as well as a new facility coming on to campus. We continued to survey our students and gather that feedback as it developed, in regard to the food offerings. From that feedback, we developed some RFPs for some national brands they wanted.” ...