A Sustainable School Year: 2014-15 in Review

What a year! Hard to believe that the semester has come to a close. It seems as though we were just slicing up all of the Kentland-grown watermelon at the inaugural Zero Waste Hokie Hi picnic to welcome our new students!

The Sustainability team in Dining Services has been busy implementing new projects over the 2014-15 school year, all of which we are very proud of! Here’s a brief run-down:

July

  • Began sale of reusable Camelbak water bottles during summer orientation.

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August

  • Zero-Waste Hokie Hi Picnic – we composted 3,180 lbs of food waste and recycled the rest!
  • Began use of the OZZI machine in West End Market, expanded the reusable to-go program with token system.
  • Class commenced for the first-ever Sustainable Agriculture Practicum, in which eleven students learned day-to-day management of a small-scale sustainable farm.
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Waste Station Volunteers welcome Freshmen at the Hokie Hi Picnic

SEPTEMBER

  • Celebrated Sustainability Week with the ribbon-cutting of the Dining Services High Tunnel at the Urban Horticulture Center.
Dining Services Director Ted Faulkner and Farm Manager Alex Hessler at the ribbon-cutting for the High Tunnel

Dining Services Director Ted Faulkner, Farm Manager Alex Hessler and UHC Director, Susan Day at the ribbon-cutting for the High Tunnel

October

  • Family Weekend – Tribute to Local Ingredients sourced almost exclusively from Virginia producers and farmers and premiered our “table to farm video” that can be seen here.

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November

  • Collaborated with SGA to pass legislation to provide every incoming freshman (in Fall 2015) with a reusable to-go container.

January

  • Farewell, styrofoam – hello compostable containers! Transitioned from styrofoam to-go containers to a compostable alternative.
  • First salad greens harvested from the High Tunnel!

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February

  • “We See You” Table Card Campaign inspired diners at West End Market to reduce their to-go use from 40% to 31% over two weeks.
  • Brought on our sustainability intern, Millie Smith, who has been involved in Zero Waste event planning, compost audits and much more! We’re excited she’ll be back with us next semester!
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Creepy but successful!

April

  • Brought Red Sun Farms tomatoes on board in all of our dining units and offered a tomato tasting station at D2 during Earth Week.

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May

  • Attended the Sustainable Food Systems Symposium and learned about sustainable food initiatives at other VA schools including UVA, JMU & GMU.

VT Dining Services is also proud to have been ranked Best Food in the annual Princeton Review, awarded silver for Outreach and Education in Sustainability by the National Association of College & University Food Services, registered as an official VA Green Restaurant, and featured on the VT homepage as an example for our achievements in sustainable, local dining!

As much as these accomplishments call for celebration, we are eager to get started on plans for the fall. Looking ahead, some changes you can expect upon return in August include:

  • Expansion of the reusable to-go program through installation of TWO new OZZI machines (!!!) in Owens and Turner Place, thanks to the Green RFP Program offered through the Office of Energy and Sustainability (VT received record funding through the program this year!)
  • Partnership with Sea to Table, an intermediary that ensures the purchase of local and sustainable seafood, and local business Blacksburg Bagels for delicious home-baked goods offered at the Farms & Fields Project!

While you’re getting into plans for summer, be sure to stay tuned with Sustainable Dining Services as we gear up for our busiest season! If you’re staycationing in Blacksburg until the fall, keep in touch on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to receive updates.

Cheers to a great year and have a sustainable summer break!

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