Many schools are glad to be reintroducing sustainability measures they put on hold early in the pandemic.
At Berea College in Berea, Ky., the dining team will once again weigh its food waste and switch back to reusable plates and silverware. The college also plans to reintroduce reusable carryout boxes for students who wish to eat outside.
Boston College is also putting its focus on reusables. “We will be promoting our reusable ‘Green2Go’ program and rolling out a ‘Fill it Forward’ reusable beverage program, says Beth Emery, director of dining services at the Newton, Mass., school.
In addition, Emery’s team is zeroing in on locally sourced ingredients, which serves two purposes: boosting sustainability efforts and addressing current kinks in the supply chain.
“With supply chain issues, there is more need to have a local food supply,” she says.
Other schools are reducing waste by partnering with community organizations. At the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, the dining team has been composting and participating in food recovery networks.
Coming together as a community
Many foodservice programs found strength in numbers as they collaborated with other campus groups.
North Carolina State Dining worked with other departments on campus to create consistent messaging around masks, social distancing and expectations for eating and drinking in areas where masks are required.
They created signage and other marketing materials and were able to share them across campus, says Jennifer Gilmore, director of marketing for the dining team.
Staff also worked closely with parent and family services to come up with a communication plan regarding the changes taking place to dining services. “It was important that we were telling the same story to reduce anxiety and ensure transparency,” Gilmore says.
Schools took their efforts off-campus as well, working with local organizations to help those in need. Boston College, for example, partnered with the local YMCA and other nonprofits, and provided meals to families in the greater Boston area.
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