2009 Environmental Survey: Paler shade of green

FoodService Director's first Environmental Study find out how operators are tackling sustainability.

Compostable disposables: Once the compost program is up and running, the campus’s earlier switch to biodegradable and compostable disposables will start having an effect on the college’s waste diversion rates. Dining Services began the switch in the fall of 2006.

“We basically had a meeting with our paper supplier and we asked them to take a look at all the items that we buy from them and asked them to find sustainable alternatives,” Plascencia says. “Thankfully, they came up with a lot of products that are compostable. We now use fiberboard plates and hinged containers, and we recently switched to sugar cane utensils from potato-based since they tend to hold better. By total purchases, 45 cents of every dollar goes to these products. When we first switched, the costs were projected to increase by about $16,000 over purchases of $320,000, so it was good that our housing director was OK with that knowing it was the right thing to do. But we’re actually spending more than that now because we opened new facilities.”

Because Riverside lacked a compostable program, the containers have been going directly to the landfill. Plascencia says the department is planning to add the disposable containers to the compost pile once the Athens program is in place.

“Once our composting program gets going, the food waste and these containers can be composted together,” Plascencia says. “In the residential dining facilities, we usually use china and glassware, but occasionally we’ll use paper products for special events. In the retail locations, it’s more difficult because the students don’t stay and eat in those locations so the ultimate goal is to have the collection containers all over campus.”

Taking to trayless: Another important step in achieving the waste diversion goals was trayless dining, which the university fully implemented at the beginning of the current school year.

“We eliminated trays starting last summer during conferences to see how students would react,” Plascencia says. “The only complaints we heard were from returning students and staff. So we decided to go completely trayless in the fall and we’ve received no complaints. In 2003 we measured the food waste for one week at our two residential dining halls and found that students were throwing away about 1,000 pounds per day at both locations. After going trayless, the daily average for each dining hall was 800 pounds.”

The department has also reduced waste by moving the napkin dispensers to each table, which tends to make the students take fewer napkins.

“When we had them with the trays, they’d grab up to seven and then they’d use four and the rest would end up in the trash,” Plascencia says. “Now that the napkins are at the tables, the students are only using the two or three that they need.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion
k-12

The School Nutrition Foundation —the School Nutrition Association’s philanthropic sibling—and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign have partnered to launch an initiative called Schools as Nutrition Hubs.

“No Kid Hungry really sees schools as a critical place in the fight against childhood hunger,” says Laura Hatch, director of national partnerships for No Kid Hungry. “Schools are really a no-brainer because they have the infrastructure, they have the experience, it’s a trusted place for families. And being able to maximize their programs and maximize the federal...

Managing Your Business
teamwork pack

As summer begins to fade and vacation season comes to a close, it’s time to start thinking about revitalizing staffers’ connections to one another . It’s certainly no secret in the Winsight offices that I’m a bit of a social butterfly, which, in turn, means I’m a rockstar at team building. Can you spot the inter-office activity I haven’t organized from the list below?

• Breakfast Sandwich Fridays: Co-workers rotate responsibility of providing ingredients for customizable sandwiches. Mimosas may have been involved. • “Sound of Music” Soundtrack Singalong Thursdays. The majority of...

Ideas and Innovation
walk-in cooler

The walk-in cooler can serve as a gathering place for more than just produce. When temperatures rise, staff at Empire State South restaurant in Atlanta host meetings in the walk-in and make occasional trips to hang out throughout the day to beat the back-of-house heat.

Managing Your Business
student shame
Let students charge meals

“We allow students to charge meals at all levels; even in high school, they can charge a certain number of meals. [After that is met,] they are given an alternate meal,” says Sharon Glosson, executive director of school nutrition services for North East Independent School District. Elementary students can charge up to $15 of meals; middle schoolers can charge $10; and high schoolers can charge $5. “Ultimately, [food services is] carrying out the policy; but we’re not necessarily the creators of the policy, [nor do we] have the final say ... because that budget...

FSD Resources