Dining Services Comitement to Sustainability
The Morris University Center's Dining Services is committed to the long term vision of our role in sustaining a clean and healty world. Here are a few of the ways we do that.
We currently pair with several organizations concerning food donations. Our primary partner in this venture is Operation food search (http://www.operationfoodsearch.org/) we have worked with them since 2010. Operation food search paired us with a local shelter in Granite City, that helps feed 300 plus people on a monthly basis. We are able to donate over processed foods, as well as products beyond their sell by date, but aren't necessarily expired. In working with Operation Food Search we gained coverage under the federal and state Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (State legislation link http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2077&ChapterID=58) (Federal Law link http://www.foodtodonate.com/Fdcmain/LegalLiabilities.aspx).
We are also working with the food donations for the campus kitchens initiative (began 2014), which is going to start by providing meals for appx. 45 children. We also work along with other Morris University Center Departments to coordinate food drives for the Glen-Ed Pantry(since 2012).
Before the state passed the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act it was very difficult for us to donate food due to state regulations and liability issues, the passing of this act freed up more donation options as well as outlets, while releasing the school from any liability once the food leaves our premises.
In regards to food waste:
Our current level of food waste is relatively low, from a production standpoint. We monitor purchase trends on a weekly basis, using this data to set up ordering numbers, cooking and par levels on a regular basis. We also perform monthly food committee meetings to help with student feed back and to monitor trends to help with production. Any food that is over produced and can not be utilized in any department would then be donated to an area shelter, as mentioned above.
Some of the main contributers to excess product are unpredictable weather patterns (closing of school, or some of the area programs that we deliver food to), unanticipated market shift in trends, and cancelling or reduction in attendance at a catered event. As a department we provide over 1200 young children in head start programs in Madison and St. Clair Counties with Breakfast, Lunch and a Snack every day. That food is prepared over-night so it may be delivered by 6a.m. the next morning. If the program was cancelled, at the last minute, due to inclement weather we may end up with excess food, we then attempt to utilize the food in other areas, if it can not be stored for later use. Any excess food would then be donated to a food shelter, however typically there is little to no waste from these incidents.
We have also changed some of our food prep techniques by doing smaller batches of cooking for high volume areas, like Entrees, however a small batch for us may be enough to feed 200 people, considering Dining Services has anywhere from 10,000-15,000 transactions a day.
We currently have multiple food vendors, and receive deliveries 5 days a week from St. Louis as well as local farms, when items are available. We also have transitioned to 2 produce Companies (US Foods and Sunfarm Produce) to be able to source the best and freshest produce available for bulk purchase. We also work with a group known as Farmplicity that pares us with local farmers to be able to buy local meats and dairy, however availability can be limited depending on local weather conditions and product demand.
We are also in talks with the student group SOS, who are creating gardens in several locations on campus, that will provide fresh produce to Dining Services. We are also working on a series of events to feature our local farmers and farmers' markets in the area.
Finally we are starting to work with 2 companies to help us monitor our food waste once it leaves our control. Meaning what are our guests throwing away? Here are the links to their websites;
We will be conducting a waste audit to see what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint while still meeting all of the needs of our guests. We are hoping to start a composting program on the guest and production side that can then be composted and used at the gardens here on campus and for SOS, to help reduce the amount of food waste going into landfills each year.
-the Dining Services Team
To see a full list of how our other departments are working to stay 'Green' please visit our UC Green page.