Every meal that comes to your plate has a story. The story involves growing, harvesting, travelling, and cooking. The story involves water, nitrogen, and carbon. The story involves farmers, truck drivers, and chefs. For green dining at UVA, the goal is to better understand, explore, and share those stories. And invite the student body to participate.
The student driven green dining working group spent academic year 2015-16 working with great passion to further the sustainable dining experience at UVA. Whether working with UVA Dining to increase sustainable purchasing, or executing events and educational campaigns for the student body, the group had a productive year continuing to grow the green dining program. The Reusable Dining programs received huge boosts this year. Since our reusable cup app ‘Cupanion’ launched in the fall, over 7,500 single use cups have been diverted from the landfill. With continued reusable to-go box expansion, messaging, and tabling, hundreds of new students joined the program this year, lowering disposable to-go box waste across Grounds. This year, green dining students helped launch three “All Vegetarian” theme meals – these meals facilitated conversation on food footprints, health and wellness, and the joy of eating veggies.
During Earth Week, a Farm to Fork meal brought together growers, suppliers, and chefs to create an amazing Virginia grown meal in O’Hill dining room. Grass fed beef sliders, a Virginia vegetable sauté, local chicken and black bean quesadillas, and more allowed students to taste the many flavors of Virginia, and the culinary skill of the UVA Dining team. Our chefs enjoyed showing off their culinary skills with local and sustainable ingredients.
Other events like regular “Weigh the Waste” campaigns, fair trade samplings, weekly “Veggie Wednesday” tabling, sustainable seafood and world water day tabling, two huge food drives for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, local vendor highlights, and GameDay Recycling Challenge at Scott Stadium and John Paul Jones Arena all helped further the green dining mission and further grow the sustainability program at UVA Dining.
The future is incredibly exciting for green dining, with many amazing partnerships and opportunities in development. For example, in fall 2016, Plus Dollars can be used to purchase a weekly CSA from student CIO Greens to Ground, bringing a variety of raw Virginia grown produce to students who want to do some cooking themselves. This semester, in partnership with the materials working group, green dining piloted a new front of house composting set up at West Range Café. With low contamination and high participation, this new set up provides a big opportunity for front of house composting. With continued tweaks Green Dining hopes to expand the set up to other dining retail spaces.
Green dining would like to thank all the students who helped drive our events and worked with UVA Dining to bring about some meaningful changes. Thank you to the students who came out to our events and were open to learning about local food, fair trade products, compost and waste, and more. We look forward to the 2016-17 academic school year and more green dining experiences!
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