BC Dining began the fall semester with a set of initiatives aiming for more sustainable, healthy, and locally sourced food on campus. The largest contributor to these goals is the new FRESH to Table program in Lower Dining Hall, which seeks to raise BC students’ awareness and consumption of “healthy, regional, socially just, and sustainable food."
Each week, the FRESH to Table program offers new menu items that must meet at least two of the five parameters, including being fairly traded, regional, equitable, sustainable, and healthy. In addition, FRESH to Table offers weekly culinary showcases of FRESH-approved foods and plans to hold educational events about incorporating sustainable dining into students’ daily lives.
BC Dining hopes to eventually expand the FRESH to Table program to all major dining halls on campus.
General Manager of Corcoran Commons Derrick Cripps acknowledged that the expansion these initiatives will be a lengthy process.
“We have to benchmark ourselves,” said Cripps. “It’s about making those little commitments. Then, at the end of each year, we evaluate ourselves to see what else we can do.”
The implementation of FRESH to Table was made possible by a generous grant from the Henry P. Kendall Foundation. The three-year grant, which totals $399,705, seeks to “develop a robust, regional, and sustainable food service program” at Boston College. BC Dining is open to applying for another grant by the end of the three-year period, but hopes to be self-sustainable in its new initiatives by that point.
BC Dining has initiated a number of initiatives to expand the menu and provide more sustainable options in the past, including the Menus of Change implemented last year.
Also, composting efforts in Mac's Carney Dining Hall were initiated last spring to mixed results. Unlike Lower, Mac does not have the infrastructure necessary for behind-the-scenes waste sorting by BC Dining employees.
Post-consumer waste must be self-sorted by students, which has often led to contamination of recycling and composting bins in the past. The waste disposal company used by BC Dining can only process the recyclables and compost with a certain amount of contamination.
This spring, BC Dining began collaboration with student groups including Eco Pledge, Real Food, and UGBC’s Environmental Caucus in an effort to increase student awareness and involvement in the recycling and composting programs at Mac.
While many students feel inconvenienced by self-sorting, Cripps hopes they will see the bigger picture.
“The reality is, if you want to make an impact on the earth, nothing should be too inconvenient,” said Cripps.
Beyond recycling and composting, Every Bite Counts, a student-run volunteer group, continues to contribute to BC Dining’s sustainability efforts by donating leftovers to local homeless shelters and soup kitchens in Boston. Students meet every evening to package leftover food and donate it to Loving Spoons, a food rescue organization that delivers the leftovers to over 40 non-profits in the Greater Boston area.
Cripps feels confident that student action and collaboration with BC's new goals for sustainable and healthy dining will bring great success.
“I know students care, but it all comes down to the decisions they make during the day,” said Cripps.