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Culinary Services' central production facility assists in reducing campus food waste and furthering OHIO's campus-wide sustainability vision.

Culinary Services' central production facility assists in reducing campus food waste and furthering OHIO's campus-wide sustainability vision.

Photo courtesy of: Culinary Services

Ohio University Culinary Services is honored to receive this year's Departmental Sustainability award given by the Ohio University Office of Sustainability.

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Culinary Services honored with Departmental Sustainability Award

Culinary Services was awarded the Departmental Sustainability Award last month during an Earth Day event hosted by the Ohio University Office of Sustainability.

“I was excited to see all of the nominations for Culinary Services,” said Annie Laurie Cadmus, Ohio University’s director of sustainability. “We spoke of their efforts at a SOUL (Sustainable Ohio University Leaders) meeting, and by the next morning, there were three nominations for their work.”

Dan Pittman, assistant director of auxiliary sales, and Erin Robb, auxiliaries purchasing specialist, accepted the award on behalf of Culinary Services.

“Sustainable practices and an environmental mindset aren’t simply ideals for Culinary Services – they are a way of life,” Pittman said. “This recognition was the result of a team-oriented effort by everyone within our department over the course of the last year.”

Culinary Services and Food Waste

All of Culinary Services’ campus dining locations, including West 82 Food Court, utilize compostable napkins, utensils, take-out containers and more to help maximize the use of Ohio University’s composting vessels and to further ongoing campus sustainability efforts. OHIO also is home to the largest in-vessel composting system of any other college or university in the nation.

The department also collaborates with the Office of Sustainability to help educate students about food waste and how they can help decrease the amount of wasted food. Informative signage that encourages students to take only what they know they will eat (and to feel free to ask for smaller portions) is posted within all Dining Courts/Halls.

Shively Court and Nelson Court, two of Culinary Services’ recently renovated dining venues, also provides numerous self-serve concepts in which customers can choose their own portions.

Other departmental renovations, like the cook/chill system and central production kitchen within Culinary Services’ Central Food Facility, has assisted them in further reducing waste through centralizing production.

“Central production has greatly assisted our department’s sustainability efforts,” said Patti Barnes, director of culinary support services. “It also ensures that our customers receive fresh food and consistent quality no matter where they dine on campus.”

One needs to look no further than the numbers for proof that Culinary Services’ combination of educational outreach, centralized production and self-service concepts has been successful. “Our efforts have placed Ohio University at nearly 41 percent below the national average for food waste,” said Rich Neumann, director of residential dining.

Culinary Services and the Environment

Culinary Services collaborated with the Culinary Services Development Committee, a student-led group, and Ohio University Student Senate to generate a pilot program that provided a free reusable bag to all incoming students with a Residential Meal Plan shortly before the beginning of Ohio University’s 2013 fall semester.

“We wanted to empower the majority of OHIO’s on-campus students to contribute to the reduction of waste associated with plastic shopping bags,” said Mohamed Ali, director of retail operations.

In an effort to further reduce the use of plastic bags on campus, Culinary Services also placed a penny tax on the plastic bags offered within each of their Campus Markets; the tax, however, will not serve as an additional revenue stream for the department or the University.

“Every cent gained as a result of the plastic bag tax will be applied toward a future campus beautification project,” said Gwyn Scott, associate vice president of auxiliaries. “It’s very important to us that the tax be utilized toward a positive endeavor that benefits OHIO’s campus community.”

Culinary Services and a Sustainable Future

Culinary Services was elated to be recognized for their 2013-2014 sustainability efforts. The department is eager to continue to further their environmental commitments in the coming years through a combination of planned venue renovations, proactive alliances with outside vendors to source sustainable, environmentally friendly items and other cooperative outreach projects.

“I think there are some great opportunities for continued collaboration and increased visibility for the work that Culinary Services is doing,” Cadmus said.

Culinary Services is part of Ohio University Auxiliaries. Each Auxiliaries unit works to provide efficient, high quality service to all campus customers and guests. These Auxiliaries units currently include: Airport Operations, Bobcat Essentials, Culinary Services, Mail Services, Moving & Surplus, Printing Services/Campus Signage and Ohio University Regional Services. Information contained in this report was submitted by Culinary Services.