Sodexo Campus Services recently created two student internships dedicated to increasing environmental initiatives, as part of the company’s commitment to sustainability and environmental awareness on campus. Maggie O’Reilly ’16 and Amelia Littleton ’16 are serving as sustainability marketing interns for the 2013-2014 academic year. One of the central goals for the interns is to connect the student voice to the decision makers at Sodexo to create an open dialogue and greater education between Sodexo and the student body.
Littleton explains, “We are working as liaisons between the students and the dining services to get information out to the student body about Sodexo’s existing sustainability efforts, as well as find out what changes students would like to see.”
Most recently the interns have been working on displaying information from Saga about waste, local food initiatives and sustainability procedures in general. Sodexo has committed to prioritizing environmental sustainability. Its main sustainability goals include reducing carbon intensity (how much carbon is emitted for every dollar spent) on site and across operations, sourcing local, seasonal or sustainably grown and raised products, reducing organic waste through on-site composting and reducing water footprint on site.
“Recently, we’ve started working with LeanPath, a system to cut back on overproduction in the kitchen. We also have Tray-less Tuesdays in an effort to decrease water use and we are working to identify what students can do to further increase the efforts,” notes Littleton.
Both Littleton and O’Reilly express a passion for local food, and sourcing local and seasonal food has recently gained popularity on campus with the creation of the student-initiated Sustainable Foods Club and the Real Food Challenge.
Sodexo and the Real Food Challenge student group are currently assessing HWS food purchases to determine if Sodexo can commit to 20 percent “real food” by 2020. “Real Food” as defined by the Real Food Challenge is local or community based, fair, ecologically sound and/or humane. Achieving the local sourcing goal of the challenge will reduce the company’s overall carbon footprint and support the Finger Lakes’ economy.
“We’ve been working in conjunction with the Real Food Challenge team, have participated in events such as National Food Day, and worked to serve more than 600 students at the 100-mile meal featured at Saga dining hall,” says Littleton. “As we continue to move forward, the positive student response from Food Day inspired several ideas about how to open a dialogue with students around sustainability and food on campus.”
Both O’Reilly and Littleton note that the partnership with the Real Food Challenge team is an integral piece moving forward, as is increasing local food options and awareness at the Colleges.
Littleton believes that there is great potential on campus to generate awareness and education about food sustainability.
“We want to see a commitment from students, faculty and staff alike to become more interested in increasing sustainability practices on campus, not only in terms of what food is being served to students, but also our recycling and composting programs,” she says. “We hope to work with buildings and grounds in the future to find out more about our waste management.”
Scott Muck, catering manager with Sodexo, agrees that education and awareness is a challenge for materials management on campus. “Education is the biggest obstacle in materials management success at events and the general awareness of how to properly sort materials is often lacking,” he says.
Muck believes students are the best educators of proper materials management to their peers, and awareness should begin upon their arrival at the Colleges. He explains that Sodexo strives to do whatever they can when making sustainability-related decisions while keeping the best interests of the Colleges in mind.
For more information about the Real Food Project or National Food Day, visit realfoodchallenge.org. For more information about Sodexo’s sustainability initiatives, visit www.hws.edu/dining/sustainability