Sustainability in Practice: Community Engagement

Program answers demand for an environmentally friendly dining service.

Tony Fraenkel purchases cattle from a local farm,
Shady Maple, for Salisbury School.

Community support has been instrumental in getting a sustainability program implemented at Salisbury School, a 300-student boarding school for high school boys in Connecticut. When the foodservice department went self-op three years ago, Tony Fraenkel, director of dining services, says he was able to answer demand for an environmentally friendly dining service.

“Going self-op enabled us to pick and chose our vendors more easily and it has really helped us move ahead with being more sustainable,” Fraenkel says. “Our emphasis is on locally grown foods and doing high-quality seasonal menus. We prepare menus with the freshest ingredients possible. With sustainability, it is important to get the community involved and develop a partnership with local farms and vendors.”

One of those partnerships is with Weatogue Farm, which is less than five minutes from campus. The farm is owned by Gordon Whitbeck, a school alumnus. A faculty member put Fraenkel in touch with Whitbeck, and now Fraenkel purchases produce grown on the farm for use in his dining program.

Fraenkel also gets local produce from the Salisbury School Garden Project, an on-site garden spearheaded by community members. The garden’s caretakers ask what produce Fraenkel can use in his program, and “the foodservice department reaps the awards,” Fraenkel says.

Another local partnership that has helped with the school’s sustainability efforts is purchasing cattle from Shady Maple Farm, which is located next to Weatogue Farm. Fraenkel found out about the cattle farm from another community member. “It’s very rural here and everyone seems to know everyone,” Fraenkel says.

Fraenkel purchased three head of cattle this year. The cattle is processed at a local USDA slaughterhouse to Fraenkel’s specifications. Fraenkel says he gets between 600 and 650 pounds of meat from each animal. He orders cuts of meat that can be roasted and braised, in addition to ground meat. “It’s nice to know where the beef comes from,” Fraenkel says.

In addition to local purchases, Fraenkel has implemented trayless dining to cut down on waste, is using only 100% compostable paper products in the dining room, is converting cooking oil to biodiesel and is composting 75% of food waste, which is used on a local farm.

Fraenkel says starting the sustainability program hasn’t been challenging because of the community support. “It’s easier than I thought to find the vendors. A lot of local vendors have come to us. Because we are now self-op we can enter into relationships with them.” 

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
Mushroom Council blended burgers

From The James Beard Foundation.

At the same time the James Beard Foundation announced the first annual Blended Burger Project™ Campus Edition, they concluded the third annual Blended Burger Project™ with a bang!

The Blended Burger Project™ contest concluded with 414 restaurants* in 45 states participating, and more than 400,000 consumer votes. Over the last nine weeks, the competition created a buzz on social media with more than 4,700 unique posts on Instagram and Twitter using the #BlendedBurgerProject hashtag.

“The Blended Burger Project™ is a phenomenal...

Ideas and Innovation
moving boxes

Because we have 39 locations throughout the state, employees are offered a transfer if they’re planning a move. They’re rehired by the company, but there’s no additional training needed and employees are ready to go on Day 1.

Ideas and Innovation
staff pack

To keep staff motivated, we locked them in a room together. As part of a midsemester training session, we formed work groups and sent them to a local Escape Room to see which team could play the game together most effectively and escape first. Not only was this training a great team-building experience, but it supported a local new business and gave our staff a memorable experience.

Ideas and Innovation
star employee

Senior leadership meets twice a year to do organizational talent planning for every position from the top down. We talk about who are the potential high-performers, and go through how they can grow. People are your differentiator—you need to take care of your assets, and your assets are your human resources.

FSD Resources