Sustainable Dining Efforts at WKU
All Fresh Food Company kitchen and diner plate food waste is composted. The food waste is pulped, collected in a container, and delivered to the Baker Arboretum where it is finished and used on-site for soil enrichment. In 2014, the first year of the composting initiative, 13.69 tons of food waste were collected and diverted from the landfill. In 2015, the total food waste diversion was 13.7 tons, and in 2016 the total was 9.8 tons. This reduction in 2016 can be explained by the Fresh Food Company's "weigh the waste" initiative, which resulted in substantial reduction in kitchen food waste during preparation.
Composting is good; eliminating food waste is the focus. Tray-less dining is an effective strategy for waste reduction. Long ago, Fresh Food Company went tray less. Not only has this reduced food waste by 25-30%, but it also reduces water use, chemical use, and labor. Trays are available by request at the counter.
To ensure that contamination is not a problem in our compost, we eliminated plastic straws in the dining hall, replacing them with paper. Did you know that plastic straws are not recyclable on our campus? If you must have a straw, let it be paper.
Fresh Food Company napkins are recycled content, unbleached, and biodegradable.
We have been working hard on sourcing local and sustainably produced food for campus dining outlets and catered events.
Wherever coffee is served, a Fair Trade option exists. In Java City, Starbucks, and Einstein's, Udderly Kentucky milk is served. As a Farm to Campus school, we seek to serve Kentucky Proud as much as possible. This is a work in progress and takes time because our approach is to purchase direct from farmers. We want to know our farms and farmers, and we want to serve fruits and vegetables that were harvested and delivered directly to WKU within hours, not days. In 2017, 7% of total food purchases for the main campus was locally sourced or met a third party certification for sustainability.
We are recycling used cooking oil. Fresh Food Company used oil is delivered to the WKU Farm, where Engineering students turn it into biodiesel for use in farm vehicles and equipment. Approximately 1500 gallons of 100% biodiesel is made each year from used cooking oil.
For catered events, china and compostable serving options are available upon request, as are recycling and composting services.
These efforts are just the beginning. WKU strives to continuously improve as a sustainable campus, and we do in Dining Services as well!
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