The Atrium Cafe is a public eatery on the first floor of Grover Center that provides hands-on lessons about food-service management to nutrition and dietetics students in Ohio University's College of Health Sciences and Professions.

Photographer: Jody Grenert

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Graphic courtesy of: Green Restaurant Association

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Atrium Cafe

Atrium Cafe receives national recognition as 'green' restaurant

Eatery is one of eight in state certified for sustainable practices

The Atrium Café in Ohio University's Grover Center has joined a handful of other Ohio eateries in achieving a "green" certification from a national organization that recognizes restaurants which follow environmentally sustainable practices.

The café serves as a public restaurant while providing hands-on lessons about food-service management to nutrition and dietetics students in the College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP), which operates the eatery.

To receive the March 12 designation from the Green Restaurant Association, the café underwent a months-long certification process that required it to meet rigorous guidelines on water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable furnishings, building materials, sustainable food, energy, disposables, chemical use and pollution.

"The truth is that our diets have a huge impact on the environment," said Fran McFadden, Atrium Café's chef, general manager and an assistant professor in CHSP's Food and Nutrition Sciences program. "So changing the way that we eat can go a long way to reducing your carbon footprint and make us more sustainable. Many restaurants have made positive changes, but we wanted to make a full commitment. You can't have majors like Culinary and Environmental Nutrition and go half the distance."

McFadden credits Cally Byrne, a cafe worker and senior in dietetics, with helping the facility earn the certification. Beginning in the fall, Byrne worked closely with the Green Restaurant Association to document the sustainable practices already in place at the café and ensure changes to operations to help it achieve the green designation.

The café joins some rare company. It is one of only eight Ohio eateries to have earned the certification, and the only one south of Columbus.

The Atrium Café's green streak fits in with the organically minded Athens community that surrounds it. The region supports a year-round farmers market that during its four decades in operation has woven itself into the local culture. And the cafe, like the Athens Farmers Market, is a partner in the local 30 Mile Meal program, a community initiative that promotes buying and eating locally produced foods in southeast Ohio.

"Our café has always been about best practices," McFadden said. "This is just another measure of Athens culture and how it supports sustainability."

Jody Grenert is communication director in Ohio University's College of Health Sciences and Professions.