According to Kathy Cacciola, senior director of environmental sustainability for Aramark, Ila has made an impact in dining services at the University of Chicago by:
• Implementing a salad bar in the dining hall, which offers premade salads with locally grown produce
• Working with the culinary staff to create new dining hall recipes that reflect seasonality, which helps increase the percentage of locally purchased food
• Planning an Earth Week dinner and working with the campus Sustainability Council to support initiatives such as an anti-bottled water campaign and composting
Developing a system to identify allergens, ingredients, vegan and vegetarian options and local food sources in our recipes for point-of-service signage. This system has enabled us to better engage the students in dining.
Focus on the big picture, and good communication is often the key to success.
Redirecting the misinformation that students receive from the Internet/media. I meet with a lot of students who feel there are not healthy options available. But what I find most often is that they have a skewed sense of what is healthy based on fad diets and unsubstantiated claims that are made throughout the industry.
I planned a focus group for students with food allergies. The event went really well and our clients sent a really nice thank you letter to our leadership team that included a note of appreciation of how much they valued my work. The outcome of this event was stronger engagement with a key group of students and a higher satisfaction level with the options available.
I would like to expand our ability to offer locally produced food. I would like to increase the presence of healthy and vegan and vegetarian options in our dining facilities.
When I was an intern I planned the dining table for the outdoor Earth Day festival. I had just moved to Chicago from Arizona and thought that the weather during late April would be nice, and people would want something cold to drink. I planned to give away iced tea. The day of the festival was freezing and raining and, needless to say, no one wanted iced tea.