When the average item of food travels over 1200 miles from farm to plate and modern farming practices often include numerous toxic fertilizers and pesticides, food is a critical aspect of sustainability. Overall objectives in our Sustainability Strategic Plan provide for high quality nourishment for people on campus that is healthfully prepared, features organic and locally produced food, serves to educate the campus community about sustainable food choices, and produces minimal food and paper waste.
Sodexo, Inc., provides all food service for the university and is committed to increasing sustainable food practices on campus. Coffee in the Lodge is Fair Trade Certified and coffee at other vendors on campus is organic or Rainforest Alliance Certified. Sodexo works with distributors to obtain local foods and organic foods when available, but quantities provided to the campus community need to be increased. Composting, education, and creating a large organic garden for the campus are all strategies that would make food more sustainable at UCCS.
Sodexo recently implemented trayless dining in the Lodge cafeteria. Studies show that going trayless can reduce food waste by 25-30% as students are less likely to carry more than they can eat to their tables. A past study of food waste in the Lodge indicated that 30% of food by weight was wasted. In addition, reusable to-go containers are now available in Clyde's Pub and compostable supplies are used for all catered events on campus.
The total compost weight for 2012 is: 141,430 pounds! Compost is food scraps and biodegradable containers that are organically decayed for fertilizing and conditioning land. Composting helps keep biodegradable items from going to a landfill, where they would sit for thousands to millions of years. More than 50 million tons of easily compostable food scraps and papers are sent to the landfill in 2007 (EPA 2007).
Food dumped into trash dumpsters and landfills attracts rodents, insects, and other animals. Our compost is placed in bear-proofed dumpsters. Composting will reduce our campus footprint by reducing methane gases created in landfills from rotting food.
Compost is the new green. No really, the bin is green. Look for compost bins set up in University Center, Overlook, The Lodge, and the Family Development Center. You can refer to the posters above the bins, which will help you decide what is composted. Take a look at them here. The following items can be composted:
• All food scraps such as meats, cheese, veggies, fruits, milk and juice, cooked or uncooked
• Coffee grouds, filters, and tea bags
• Plates, cups, straws (Paper-based, or PLA #7)
• Napkins and paper towels
• Toilet paper and paper towel rolls
• Wrapping paper, tissue paper, and pizza boxes
• Grass clippings, leaves, weeds, twigs, and branches
The Family Development Center, which offers early childhood programs and provides day care for students, faculty and staff as well as the community at large, has created an educational organic vegetable garden. Children share in watering and caring for the garden using the organic fertilizer made in their worm composter. The children learn about agriculture, weather, food, and recycling in a hands-on, sensory-filled, environment. Recently, the Family Development Center was named a National Wildlife Sanctuary (www.nwf.org), perhaps the only preschool in the nation to hold this designation.
"The greatest gift of our garden is the opportunity for all of the children to dig in the dirt and get in touch with the outdoors, a lost art for many city children." -- Ida Bauer, Director FDC
UCCS students, faculty, and staff established an organic vegetable garden at the Heller Center. The purpose of the garden is to educate the campus community, particularly younger students who may be away from home for the first time, about local, organic food, nutrition, and sustainable agricultural practices. The garden will serve as a living laboratory for research on variety of sustainability topics as well as provide delicious local, organic food.