Meagan Jones

What sets Meagan Jones, environmental specialist for Housing & Food Service at the University of Texas at Austin, apart from the average employee is her high energy level and passion for sustainability.

Why Selected?

Scott Meyer, associate director of Housing and Food Service, says: What sets Meagan apart from the average employee is her high energy level and passion for sustainability. Her position is new for the department and Meagan has been instrumental in creating the framework of this position and setting goals for improvement. A few of the projects created include pre- and post-consumer composting, a reusable takeout container program, an herb and vegetable garden and a divisionwide green team.

Details

Environmental Specialist for Housing & Food Service, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Age: 30
Education: B.S. in nutrition/coordinated program in dietetics from the University of Texas at Austin
Years at organization: 4

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

Working in an organization that has embraced sustainability so fully. I can’t take sole credit for any of the sustainability initiatives, but creating the first campus food garden and beginning a pre- and post-consumer composting program have been highlights.

Q. What would you say you excel at over more seasoned colleagues?

Being closer to the age of the students, I feel like I am able to identify with them more easily and can communicate to them more effectively. Also, sustainability has been more of a way of life through my lifetime, whereas this is a newer concept to some of my co-workers.

Q. What's the best career advice you've been given?

Choose your battles wisely. There are many things that I could choose to nitpick, but I try to go for things that will have the largest impact.

Q. What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?

Since I am the first sustainability coordinator, I’ve had to blaze my own path and build the trust and respect of many of the people who have been here for a long time.

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

Recently, I was a judge at a Trashion show, which was a fashion show that used recycled/reusable materials. The student that was introducing the event was describing how our department is providing ways for students to live more sustainably, and it really hit me that the students do recognize and appreciate these efforts.

Q. What would you like to accomplish in your career in the next two years?

I hope to continue to work toward making our food service operation and all other parts of our division more sustainable as we all learn how to be better stewards of our environment.

Q. What's been your funniest on-the-job disaster?

A few years ago we were conducting plate waste studies, which involved scraping food into buckets. I tried to get sufficient volunteers [to help out] but many shifts would end up with just me and one of the dishroom staff left to scrape all of the food. In the middle of a rush, we could have dozens of plates coming back at the same time, and I would have to move as fast as I could to grab the plates before they passed me. I felt like Lucy in that scene at the candy factory, moving as fast as I could and getting half of the food on me instead of inside the bucket.

Under 30

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
kale quinoa salad

With all the hype around probiotics, we decided to create a daily dish that incorporates probiotics in addition to prebiotics. You rarely hear about prebiotics, and this was a great way to highlight how the two work synergistically to maintain a healthy gut. Our chefs have developed menu items such as roasted salmon with yogurt and mint vinaigrette; kale and quinoa salad with warm maple dressing; and leek soup with pickled cucumbers, to name a few.

Menu Development
ramen bowl spoon chopsticks

Asian noodle soups are a popular lunch option at YouTube’s San Bruno, Calif., campus, says Trent Page, the GM at Bon Appetit Management who runs the company’s three corporate dining venues. But Page noticed an increasing preference for customizable dishes and vegan preparations among the 1,000 customers he feeds daily. Inspired by a recent visit to Japan, he introduced tsukemen to the menu—a dish that features most of the traditional ramen ingredients (noodles, eggs and vegetable garnishes) served separately so diners can mix and match. “Separating the components makes it more customizable...

Ideas and Innovation
chicken dinner

For the last three years, we’ve hosted an event called Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner. We sponsor the local chapter of Future Farmers of America to raise the chickens, and we have to arrange all the transporting from farms to the distributor, which keeps the birds in a freezer until we’re ready. We build hype by having students vote on the proprietary spice blend they would like on the chicken. It helps the nutrition team get involved in the educational process and showcase local food purchasing.

Ideas and Innovation
employees generation multicultural

We are no longer short staffed, ever. On a given day, missing two team members from a team of 50 would leave us 96% staffed. The actual choice of wording places a positive emphasis on those that did come to serve our guests and patients. We no longer use the phrase “short staffed”; this is a game-changer when we are challenging ourselves as culture facilitators or leaders.

FSD Resources