UConn Dining Services proved themselves to be a star of the show in this year’s Environmental Leadership Awards when they won three of the awards. This year, Dining Services’ Spring Valley Farm won the Student Group Award, Julia Cartabiano, the manager of Spring Valley Farm, won the Staff Award and Dining Services itself won the Staff Group Award. These awards were created as an honor to those who have excelled in their efforts for environmental awareness and progress in efforts and Dining Services, as a leader of environmentally friendly changes on campus, truly deserves these awards.
Dining Services have made some significant changes and has lead a movement towards environmental awareness and protection on campus. Over the last three years, Dining Services have focused on reducing waste in the dining halls. They have focused on buying food from local vendors in order to reduce their carbon footprint. (There is a list of their local vendors on their website). The University of Connecticut is the top buyer of Connecticut produce and this greatly reduces the carbon footprint of the university. Another way Dining Services cut their waste was the change from putting napkin dispensers at each table to stationing them in central locations. This greatly reduced the number of napkins used. This semester one of the ways they continued their initiative of waste awareness was through the Tasty Waste Lunch. On Sept. 21, Dining Services offered a meal on Fairfield Way made completely of food that would have been wasted. This was to publicize the mass amounts of food, 40%, that is wasted in U.S. food supply. These actions from Dining Services have greatly benefitted the university and the environment.
Two of the awards went to the Spring Valley Student Farm, a community of student farmers who focus on sustainable living and growing organic food as well as the business aspects of harvesting, processing, and presenting food to the community. The farm allows students to volunteer in the fall and set up a market outside the Benton two Fridays in September this semester.
Dining Services has helped improve the community in multifaceted ways. They continuously strive to reduce waste and help our environment and they set an example for the community during that process. These awards both thank Dining Services for their important work and display it to the community as an example of the direction for which the university strives.