Rewards for successful sustainability

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Even the governor of the state of Virginia is impressed. Due to its continued commitment to sustainability and implementations of environmental initiatives, the dining services program at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, received the bronze rating of the 2014 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award earlier this year.

“I think what’s been really great,” shares Rial Tombes, sustainability coordinator at Virginia Tech, “is it’s the first real award or any kind of recognition that dining services has gotten for sustainability. Virginia Tech as a whole has gotten a few awards … but this is the first dining-specific recognition, and I think that that is a really good thing to be able to say.”

Presented by the Environmental Virginia Symposium during its 25th anniversary event held at Virginia Military Institute, in Lexington, winners of the award have made sustainability an integral part of their organizational culture through leadership, innovation and continual improvement, according to the governor’s website. By way of an application process, organizations that have demonstrated a culture of environmental sustainability, reduction in their environmental footprint and a commitment to future sustainability-orientated actions are chosen for gold, silver and bronze categories for sustainability and land conservation.

The dining services team has prioritized sustainability, incorporating initiatives such as the Reusable To-Go Container Program (see April 2014 issue); the Farms to Fields Project market concept in the campus’s Owens Food Court, which offers sustainable, organic and local food options for students throughout the school year; and partnering with the University’s college of agriculture and life sciences to bring milk from the university dairy and produce from the school’s research facility at Kentland Farm into the dining program.

Moving forward the dining services team is researching sustainable seafood options, expanding its reusable program and preparing for the incorporation of compostable beverage cups from its campus beverage vendor. 

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