Jane Ewald / Gavel Media

BC Dining's Fresh Initiatives Support Sustainability

Many of life’s best moments happen in the presence of food. Relationships are formed over coffee, important deals are closed at dinner, and friendships are forged while gathering for post-lecture lunches. The wall of McElroy dining hall says it best when quoting Virginia Woolf: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” The quality, sourcing, and sustainability of the food with which we nourish ourselves are well worth our consideration. It is for these reasons that Boston College Dining is making the concerted effort to improve the eco-friendly quality of campus dining halls, as well as the food being prepared behind its counters.

One of the major goals of BC Dining is to reduce the plastic waste produced by its customers. Julianne Stelmaszyk, Manager of Regional and Sustainable Food Systems at Boston College, reports that last year a staggering total of 10 million-plus “single-use disposable items” were thrown away on campus. In order to push back against this trend, BC Dining’s Choose Reusable Campaign is promoting the selection of silverware and ceramic plates over plastic and paper when dining in. For those carrying-out, Newton campus’ Stuart dining hall now offers Green2Go containers, which are composed of recycled plastic and cater to the fast-paced lifestyle of many students and faculty who take their food to class, dorm rooms, libraries, and beyond. Stuart’s new mini-mart Legal Grounds has done away with plastic straws and now caps all of their cups with sippable plastic lids, a change that many Starbucks across the country have implemented. Dining halls found on Lower Campus will soon offer the same sustainable containers and will be equipped with new “Dining In” and “To-Go” stations, which will allow students to make more ecologically-friendly choices depending on their schedules.

The origin of the food with which we fill these containers and dishes is equally as important to BC Dining’s green agenda. As a part of this new initiative, dining halls will also provide cards stationed along food lines which outline the “FRESH” qualities of meals, with “FRESH” standing for fairly traded, regional, equitable, sustainable, and healthy. Stelmaszyk is looking forward to seeing the results of an additional BC Dining project focused on sourcing, explaining, “[It is] an exciting strategy to increase more local and underutilized seafood on the menus.” These options will include pollock and Acadian redfish. BC Dining is also working on providing in-season produce grown at nearby farms to BC tables. Students looking to freshen up their food selection in dorms can also choose to participate in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farmshare Program, previously exclusive to staff members over the summer. With this arrangement, produce from Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, Massachusetts is delivered to campus and arranged for faculty and student pick up. The summer cycle runs for thirteen weeks and the fall for eight.

There is no shortage of fun, food-related events organized by BC Dining throughout the year. Starting today, October 22, the week-long launch of Choose Reusable will be held in Corcoran Commons. BC S’well bottles and reusable bamboo silverware will be available for purchase, and BC Dining will be promoting strategies to cut down on plastic waste. On November 5, the club Real Food BC is set to hold their Food Insecurity Dinner, planning to collaborate with multiple on-campus organizations including BC Dining, Every Bite Counts, GlobeMed, and the Montserrat office. Stelmaszyk explains the goal of this event as “bring[ing] about awareness of local and global food insecurity.” Stop by for a meal prepared with fresh produce grown and harvested from BC’s very own garden or to hear what guest speaker David Eisenberg of Harvard University has to say about the prominent food insecurity crisis.

Students can also look forward to FRESH to Table demonstrations, hosted by Corcoran Commons on Wednesday nights each week, where students and faculty can stop in to try tasty meals prepared with local ingredients. Past options have included baked local fish with corn relish, cranberry pear crisp, and apple bok choy salad. In the future, Stelmaszyk explains, BC Dining and Real Food BC hope to hold short food talks, “a sort of fireside chat with our farmers, producers, and food experts to help us foster more transparency about where the food in the dining halls is sourced from.”

The Student Sustainability Action Committee, which works with BC Dining to bring initiatives like these to life, had their first meeting just weeks ago on October 2. Students who care about the quality and sourcing of their food or who want to help lessen the environmental impact of BC’s dining should know that the committee is always looking for new members. For more information on how to join or participate in these dining programs, contact [email protected] or visit the BC Dining website at www.bc.edu/offices/dining.

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