Parents and Families

Photo by Ben White

If your student eats on campus, you can be assured that their food options are healthy both for them and for the environment.

Keith Soster, Director of Student Engagement, says, "Several years ago, Michigan Dining’s residential dining halls and administrative offices received the highest Sustainable Workplace certification by the Office of Campus Sustainability (OCS). Since then, in addition to making sure students have healthy options for their bodies, almost every aspect of dining is also a healthy choice for our environment."

The unit achieved the OCS Platinum status after an evaluation of recycling practices, procurement of sustainable products, implementing pre- and post-consumer composting in all locations, and for procuring and promoting sustainable foods.

Serving more than 25,000 student meals a day (over 4 million per year), in nine dining halls, plus more than 24 cafes and markets, means the health benefits to both students and the environment could be huge. That's why Michigan Dining continues to innovate:

  • Trayless dining -- Trays were eliminated in every dining hall for two reasons: it helps students choose meals more carefully (healthy for them) and also generates less waste (healthy for the planet.)

  • Just-right servings -- Small plates let students try various meal options without as much waste. And diners can always come back for more.

  • Local sources -- More than 30 Michigan farmers and suppliers provide fruits, vegetables, honey and more. And now U-M’s Campus Farm also grows and delivers food for students.

  • Food Recovery – The student-run Food Recovery Network partners with dining staff to collect surplus perishable food that would otherwise go to waste, and donates it to people in need. To date, FRN has collected nearly 20,000 pounds of food.

  • Waste collection – All campus food sites collect compostable and recyclable waste. As of 2016, these efforts had reduced waste going to landfills by 30%, diverting 814,451 pounds.

  • Zero Waste events – More than 320 zero waste events -- including the New Student Convocation picnic -- have taken place on campus, sending waste to compost or recycling facilities instead of landfills.

  • Staff training -- Most dining staff (97%) are certified as Planet Blue Ambassadors, having received training on the campuses’ five sustainability goals -- waste, water, food, energy, and culture.

  • Recycling – Most products used in dining halls and cafes are recyclable or compostable. Even the cooking oil is collected and recycled into other usable products including biodiesel fuel and animal feed.

  • Sustainable seafood  -- Students can choose seafood caught by environmentally-conscious fisheries and certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). U-M was recently designated as an Ocean Hero for "leading the world towards a more sustainable future" and was the first Big Ten university to receive MSC Chain of Custody certification. 

  • Wireless thermometers -- Temperatures in refrigerators and freezers of dining halls are monitored wirelessly, increasing energy efficiency while keeping foods safe. Staff can also work more productively, focusing on food service rather than manually checking temperatures.

According to Mr. Soster, "The total package is important -- water, waste, energy, health and wellness."  With this approach, students are offered healthy food choices for themselves as well as our planet.


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February 2018 Newsletter

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