By Jim Yarbrough
There’s a maxim that states, “You are what you eat.” I think it is time we started to use a new phrase: “You are what you recycle,” or, “You are the contribution you make to the environment.”
We live in an era when sustainability and energy have become major issues on every agenda.
Several years ago, Notre Dame Food Services formed a Social Responsibility Committee that focuses on local purchases, fair-trade products, animal welfare, and environmental issues. The work of the committee filters down to the cooks that prepare your food, the staff that serves your food, and those responsible for maintaining our facilities.
In each area of Food Services, there is a Sustainable Representative that is chosen for their interest in the issues I mentioned. They guide and train staff members to be good stewards of our planet.
The Social Responsibility Committee has facilitated the development of the Indiana College and University Food Alliance (ICUFA), which works with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to develop farm-to-school programs that promote distribution of locally produced goods by in-state farmers.
Food Services has just completed a multi-faceted Campus Sustainable Food Plan that includes plans for improvement in the areas of local food purchases, organic and sustainably produced food, use of eco-friendly to-go containers, reducing and recycling food waste, sustainable production and delivery from our vendor partners, reducing and recycling packaging, and outreach to the campus community.
We want to take the knowledge we have acquired over the past couple of years and educate those who live and work on our campus. We have activities planned for the upcoming year that will actively involve students in developing metrics for the waste we generate in our dining halls. We will use those metrics to develop marketing materials that show students the impact they can make on their environment.
I had the opportunity to facilitate a group during the January 28, 2008, Green Summit II. It was exciting to see the concern displayed by our students and campus staff members and their willingness to make changes that can preserve resources.
It is rewarding when you see Food Service staff bringing flashlight batteries from home to put in our battery recycling containers or you see staff pulling a cardboard box from the outgoing trash and breaking it down to be recycled.
They understand our sustainability vision is to “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Jim Yarbrough is the Senior Associate Director for Residential Operations and has been with Notre Dame Food Services for 19 years. Jim is also the Chairman of the Social Responsibility Committee.
This article appears as part of a 10-day series titled Perpsectives on Sustainable Energy. Subscribe for updates "here.":/stay-involved