UConn Storrs adds new sustainably prepared meals to dining plan

Comfort food ranks top on the list of important student needs.

Aug. 29—As the fall semester begins, dining services at UConn Storrs will roll out thousands of sustainably prepared meals to members of the UConn community.

UCuisine, the guide to dining and cuisine at UConn, relayed the Department of Dining Services’ mission statement: aiming “to nourish the university community by providing quality, diverse and nutritious foods with consideration for our environment.”

No small feat, considering the one hundred and eighty thousand meals prepared and served every week by staff.

Dennis Pierce, the director of Dining Services at UConn, says dining services this year is “big on sustainability” in response to increasingly rigorous state guidelines regarding the sustainability of buildings, appliances, and design, the quality of the dining facilities is kept in check and is frequently inspected.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

FSD Resources