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NSU joins Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Challenge

Published 11/30/17

Jessica Sudbeck

TNE Writer

Recently, NSU joined the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Challenge and, in doing so, pledged its commitment to sustainable food handling practices.

“Joining the challenge is an initiative that, as a higher education institution with a food entity, we will be committed to sustainable efforts, food waste management and food waste reduction,” said Chris Adney, NSU Auxiliary Services director.

Sodexo is the food service provider currently used at NSU.  Before pledging to the EPA challenge, Sodexo was already commended as a very active industry leader in the United States regarding sustainability.

“Specific to NSU and the Food Recovery Challenge, I was recently asked to review and respond to suggested guidelines from the Food Recovery Network,” said David Wilcox, NSU Sodexo manager.  “I am happy to report that we were able to respond positively to all 23 questions on the survey.  In fact, we currently exceed many of them.”

The entire Market Café and 89 percent of NSU's retail locations offer a tray-less environment that reduces waste.   This came about as a student-led initiative after Sodexo's Student Board of Directors, in conjunction with Sodexo’s management team, completed two different waste audits.  These were designed to help guide decisions and educate students on waste reduction.

“I think it is important that NSU helps the environment by making these changes,” said Kali Landers, Delta Zeta Green Chair.  “The ability to breathe clean air, drink fresh water and be protected against harmful effects like food waste are essential for our well-being.”

Before making the pledge, NSU was already taking steps to be more sustainable. Participating in the challenge shows the institution’s promise on paper.

“Over the past several years we have implemented more cook-to-order stations throughout our operations to reduce waste and increase student satisfaction,” said Wilcox.  “Some of these stations in the Market Café include the vegetarian station, deli, pizza and pasta station and the grill.  In retail, Senor Sabroso also builds on this idea.”

Multiple behind-the-scenes equipment changes and updates that reduce the carbon footprint have been implemented in the University Center, as well.  

“Making these changes is good for the environment and for NSU because it is going to reduce the amount of food wasted, which will reduce the amount that is needed, sourced and purchased by the institution,” said Adney. “It will save money, time and energy and help the environment by producing less waste.”

More and more lighting is being transitioned to power saving and more efficient LED.  A new dishwashing system is saving power, reducing water use and reducing cleaning agents in the environment, and a new bank of walk-in coolers and freezers have greatly increased the efficiency of operations while increasing food quality.

In many ways, NSU has already been practicing other sustainable food management by removing trays from the cafeteria, cooking in smaller batches rather than mass quantities and having appropriate plate sizes at each food station instead of one large plate that could be used as a vehicle to waste food.

NSU’s commitment to sustainable food handling practices is already evident in many ways and will only get better in the months ahead with the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge pledge.

For more information, email Adney at adneyc@nsuok.edu.


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