Waste Management: Aramark-wide Efforts

Waste audits can be a popular -- and eye-opening -- way of finding out where there's room for improvement in an organization's waste management program.  UVa Dining has experienced this first hand by working with a number of student groups and projects to host post-consumer food waste audits this fall, as well as in past semesters.

The Newcomb group shares their waste audit experiences during their final class presentation

Each dining room, plus the Fine Arts Cafe retail space, all hosted one waste audit over the course of the fall, and each audit served as a way of raising awareness about individuals' roles in contributing to a sizeable overall waste stream.  One takeaway that students noted in their final presentations this morning was the opporunity for stressing reusable to-go containers versus the default disposable container.  That's a great individual action which students can take that will add up to major reductions in waste.

Two of the groups created videos to accompany their final presentations.  Check them out!  

Runk waste audit video
Fine Arts Cafe audit video

Aramark as a whole has made waste management a top priority in its sustainability programming over the last few years, so we here at UVa are falling in line with what our counterparts around the country are also doing.  One great example of that is at Monterey Bay Aquarium (the name may sound familiar: we try to purchase our seafood according to the renowned Monterey Bay sustainable seafood guidelines!), for which Aramark provides the food and catering.  Michael Seaman is their recently hired Environmental & Purchasing Manager, and part of his job includes tracking the trash and looking at ways to divert more of it into recycling channels.  For the full story, check out the Monterey Herald article about his position.  It's pretty exciting to see environmental sustainability steadily becoming more established within the corporate world -- I'm sure there's lots more innovation to come! 

With a rise in the number of full time positions devoted to conservation, Aramark will be able to make even more significant headway towards minimizing its overall environmental footprint.


Food Trends of 2012

It seems that the USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative was a couple of years ahead of its time.  "Supermarket guru" Phil Lempert has just released his annual predictions of food trends in the coming year and coming it at number 4 is his sustainability related forecast: Increased Emphasis on the 'Farm to Fork' journey.  He clarifies that the face of this movement is increasingly going to be the farmer - rather than the chef - and, in particular, the emerging next generation of young farmers that are already social media savvy and well connected in their communities.  Coming on the heels of what seems like a steady stream of tainted food stories, it's no wonder that the public is looking for food security via transparancy, and they're finding it directly through their community farmers.  I certainly hope that this is more than a trend, though!

Take a look at the complete list of food trends here.  What do you think Phil missed?


VA Food Security Summit

The second Virginia Food Security Summit was a success!  In total, over three hundred people from across the state came to Charlottesville for the Monday evening roundtable and Tuesday all day workshop and flash presentations.  Events like this always do a great job of re-energizing attendees in their continued efforts to increase availability and access of local food to Virginians, and the Summit was no exception.

Attendees gather at the Jefferson Scholars Foundation Hall on Monday evening for a 'crystal ball' roundtable event on the state and future of food security in Virginia.

USDA's Kathleen Merrigan gives her inspiring remarks.

Tanya Denckla Cobb moderates the roundtable with some big names in the sustainable food and ag realm (Fred Kirschenmann, Ken Meter, etc)

The Catering set-up for the post-roundtable reception

Virginia oysters

The reception menu - I heard great things about the delicata squash and pear soup!

All the sponsors who made this event possible (including UVa Dining)

The breakfast spread

Tanya kicks things off with an overview of what the VA Food System Council hopes to accomplish at the Summit (namely, getting input on their recently drafted Virginia Farm-to-Table plan so that they can officially present it to the folks in Richmond)

Attendees self-identifying as producers/distributors/eaters/etc

Discussing regulatory barriers to local meat processing in one of our breakout sessions

The Virginia Farm-to-Table plan

Breaking for lunch

Spencer Neale represents the Farm Bureau at the post-lunch panel
Thanks to the conference organizers and to everyone that came out and added such enthusiasm to the entire experience!  I'm excited to see the Virginia Farm-to-Table plan making its journey from draft to implementation.

Also a shout out goes to Bernice O'Brien, who was our student scholarship recipient and attended the Monday evening and Tuesday summit in its entirety.  I can't wait to hear her thoughts on the take aways from the event, and how we can continue to make progress in local food procurement here on Grounds.  Stay tuned for details about our first Green Dining meeting of the spring semester where you'll catch a more detailed and introspective recap!


Healthy Bites: The Recap

I hope some of you readers were able to stop by a dining hall yesterday evening for a tasty bite of breakfast at dinner!

To whet your appetite for future events, check out the pictures:

First stop, Runk.

It might be stretching things to call these 'healthy', exactly, but the Carter Mountain apple cider donuts were sure scrumptious!

Local baked apple with a struesel crumble topping, and granola encrusted french toast in the background.  I tried a baked apple topped with yogurt (Chef Brett mixed in frozen Local Food Hub black raspberries with plain yogurt), dried cranberries, and local honey -- needless to say, I had to hold myself back from licking my plate clean.

A jar of the Hungry Hill Farm honey (from Shipman, VA) that Runk procured via the Local Food Hub for last night's dishes.

Did you know that items are identified as organic at the Runk salad bar by being placed in white (rather than black) bins?

Next up was Newcomb.

I hope it was obvious that the apples were local here...!

Setting out the apple dish.

It's fun to see how each chef has his own take on these special menu items.

And we rounded things out with a stop in at O'Hill.

Setting the scene.

O'Hill chose to set everything (baked apples, french toast, egg-white omelet) out together in one sampler platter.  That way you could try out everything in healthy portions!

As usual, the apples were local here, plus some of the ingredients in the omelet, including arugula and shitake mushrooms.

Great job to all of our chefs!  Stay tuned for more events to come.