SAN LUIS OBISPO — As one of the largest commercial services on campus, Campus Dining strives to lessen its environmental impact by reducing Cal Poly’s foodprint. While many have heard of reducing one’s carbon footprint with limiting travel and thus carbon emissions, reducing one’s foodprint is a new idea for Cal Poly.
“Foodprint refers to the environmental impact of food which can include where the food came from, the amount of green house gases produced, the amount of land required to produce the food and even how food waste is handled,” stated Megan Coats, Cal Poly’s Registered Dietitian. By reducing Cal Poly’s foodprint, Campus Dining is bettering the environment with its sustainable practices one step at a time.
Campus Dining’s sustainability efforts are focused on five key areas: food sustainability, waste stream management, water and energy conservation, green buildings and green transportation. While significant environmental efforts have been made on Campus Dining’s end, education of the student population is ultimately key to the implementation of the program.
Environmental impact, green house gas production, if the food is local and organic, and sustainability practices are just some of the many factors that are taken into consideration when reducing Cal Poly’s foodprint. One way that Campus Dining ensures the food they serve is sustainable is by evaluating food sourcing.
Central to this is buying food from local businesses. Cal Poly serves over 100 different local, organic, and sustainable products throughout campus. This keeps money in the local economy, supports family farms, reduces oil-dependent transportation costs, protects our local landscapes and ensures fresh and healthy food stays available and affordable.
“Food sustainability is important because not only does it encompass the environmental impacts, it can promote personal health, and the local economy by preserving local, family businesses or farms,” stated Coats.
In light of these efforts, Cal Poly celebrated its first annual Food Day on Thursday, October 23, which emphasized food sustainability. Campus Dining’s booth at the event highlighted the locally grown products served on campus.
“Many products that dining purchases and uses are from local vendors,” said Coats. “For example, dining uses a local bakery, Edna’s Bakery, for most of the breads served on campus. SLO Roast Coffee supplies the coffee at Julian’s. Many of the seasonal vegetables used and offered are also from local farms. Thinking about food waste when purchasing and choosing food is another way to support food sustainability. “
Although Campus Dining’s implementation of sustainable practices such as composting, recycling and waste management are nothing new, it has now taken its environmental efforts a step further by recently partnering with the Zero Waste Program on campus.
“We have partnered with the university to expand our waste diversion program to achieve our goal of zero-waste by the year 2020,” stated Gregory Yeo, Operations Manager. Campus Dining already diverts 72 percent of its trash and has eliminated all use of Styrofoam and plastic bags within Campus Dining. Still, the university aims to reduce the remaining 28 percent through this partnership, which will significantly divert the amount of solid waste that ends up in landfills.
On behalf of this partnership, new zero-waste stations have been added to dining facilities to help students sort their trash for composting, recycling, or landfills. As a result of these waste stream management efforts, 193,000 pounds of cardboard are recycled and 230 tons of food waste are locally composted per year.
As for future sustainability practices, Campus Dining plans to replace many of their major facilities with “green buildings” that meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards.
In the end, Cal Poly is all about the “green and gold. By reducing its foodprint, it’s Campus Dining’ s goal to make Cal Poly even greener.