Taste of Dining tomorrow

Dining is holding its 2nd annual Taste of Dining event tomorrow -- you don't want to miss it! Taking place on the grassy lawn outside of O-Hill dining hall from 5-8pm, the event will feature signature dishes from every single dining location on Grounds (that includes concessions, catering, and the Law School cafe, among the ones that everyone is probably more used to visiting), along with live music and the chance to win some nifty prizes. There will also be an entire sustainability cluster, consisting of Green Dining, the UVa Student Garden, Campus Kitchens, Meat Free Monday and the UVa Green Challenge (a project sponsored by UVa Facilities Management). Come by, listen to some tunes, eat some food, and learn about UVa sustainability efforts and ways to get involved. Bring your own travel mug and/or water bottle if you remember!


Welcome Back!

And another school year begins: today is the first day of classes for the class of 2014. All the dining rooms and retail locations are up and running, including two brand new units: McLeod cafe over at the nursing school and a Starbucks on the ground floor of the South Lawn extension.

I spent several hours on the Lawn yesterday at the Student Activities Fair -- I suppose with the increasing class sizes, it actually is safe to say that it gets more crowded every year! -- speaking with students about our sustainable dining program, encouraging them to sign up for the Green Dining mailing list, and handing out a ton of reusable mug punch cards (bring your own reusable mug to on-Grounds cafes and after eight purchases you're eligible for two free coffee/tea/sodas). Green Dining meeting days haven't yet been determined, but I'll be sending out an email soon in order to determine the details via doodle poll. I'm looking forward to continuing last year's conversations.

Two major projects are being initiated this year. The first is an expansion on the already existing reusable to-go container program. For starters, this year the safety deposit is $5, instead of $7. When a student signs up to participate, she will get her two key tags (each of which is redeemable for a clean to-go container) and a frequent user punch card, modeled after the successful mug card. Card #1 allows a student to cash in for a free quesadilla from the Fine Arts Cafe after getting her meal in a reusable container ten times. When the student redeems the completely punched card for the quesadilla, the Fine Arts Cafe cashier will also hand her card #2, with a different reward waiting at the end of the card's completion. There are six cards in total, with the final completed card serving as a ticket for entry into a raffle to win a private, after hours sustainable dinner at the Fine Arts Cafe with ten invited friends.

The second project is Dining's Meat Free Monday campaign. This effort seeks to make vegetarian food more accessible in the dining halls by offering a vegan/vegetarian entree at one additional station (extra from the already 100% vegan/vegetarian station) during lunch and dinner on Mondays. There are a number of nutritional and environmental benefits to slightly reducing meat consumption, including reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer; and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, conserving our water resources, and reducing fossil fuel dependence needed for food production. Furthermore, the typical American diet contains more protein than needed on a day-to-day basis, so by choosing a meat-free alternative on Mondays, students generally need not fear not getting enough protein (or other nutrients).

Let Dining know what you think of these new programs!