Sustainability is not only popular amongst today's college-aged students; it's also an easy way to save money.
Sustainability is often seen as being more complicated than it really is. Bottom line, the less we waste, the more we save. That goes for our reputations as well as our wallets.
More than ever, younger demographics of students are interested in foodservice that's not just good for their bodies. They're looking for foodservice that's good for the environment as well. A trip across campus at your old alma mater may look the same in some ways, but step into the student union dining hall and it might look totally different.
Today, colleges and universities have a wide range of foodservice delivery components. When properly combined, they can produce a process that helps create a more sustainable foodservice program.
Here are a few things to consider with college and university foodservice sustainability:
Food waste is by far one of the most important foodservice trends of 2019. As Americans, we waste roughly 40 percent of our entire food supply, and this is no different on our college campuses. Students are leading the way on many of these initiatives. Some prime areas to begin exploring college foodservice sustainability are food bank organizations and on-campus research on how to better use foods and ingredients. Check out these food waste reduction resources from the Environmental Protection Agency for more ideas.
TRANSPORTATION & DISTRIBUTION
Another easy way to increase sustainability is to decrease the distances to deliver food. Trucking and shipping not only add a layer of cost to ingredients, but they also add carbon to our atmosphere. More than ever in the history of college and university foodservice, operators are sourcing ingredients closer to campus, and in some cases, ingredients are grown or raised on campus.
Foods grown sustainably are often organic which means they're almost always antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and pesticide-free. Are there additional costs associated with better, cleaner ingredients? Of course, but students are driving these demands and they're also willing to pay the difference when they know they're helping contribute to sustainable efforts.
When using sustainable ingredients, consider a tradeoff in portion sizes too. "You serve a 2.5-ounce rather than a 3-ounce burger when your antibiotic-free beef is raised on a ranch with sustainable practices," says Shawn LaPean, executive director of Cal Dining at the University of California, Berkeley.
UTILITIES & FACILITIES
The fourth main component to sustainability involves the amounts of utilities it takes to complete a service. From water and gas, to electricity and refrigerant, the quantities you use impact the world as well as your wallet.
Foodservice is one of the largest consumers of energy over any other type of operation, and that's why foodservice equipment and supplies are so critical in reducing usage levels of our valuable resources. From on-demand ventilation, to energy-efficient blenders, a serious examination of the equipment used in a college or university kitchen can help reduce utility bills. There are many other ideas like these detailed in an article in Community College Daily.
Sustainability is an important college and university foodservice trend. Would you like to learn about more relevant trends? Download our free 2019 Foodservice Trends Guide to see the other trends impacting our industry.