From serving Fair Trade organic coffee to using recyclable materials, Elmhurst College’s food service provider, Chartwells, a unit of Compass Group, has initiatives in place to ensure that its offerings are not only nutritious and tasty, but friendly to the environment.
A Sustainable Menu
Chartwells acquires food from local producers as often as possible, according to Travis Orman, director of dining services. That lessens the distance that delivery vehicles have to travel to deliver provisions to campus. That, in turn, reduces the amount of energy needed to ship foods to Elmhurst. It also results in fresher foods being served with more vitamins and nutrients.
Orman says Chartwells orders only antibiotic-free poultry and sustainable seafood. The cafeteria serves cage-free shell eggs, or eggs from chickens that aren’t confined to cages. It serves milk without the bovine growth hormone rBGH.
Compass Group is committed to protecting the threatened global fish supply, Orman says. In collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, Compass established a purchasing policy that will remove more than 1 million pounds of wild seafood, such as Atlantic cod, from menus each year. Compass is working with suppliers and the Environmental Defense Fund to pursue development of stricter and safer production standards, especially for farmed salmon and shrimp.
At every meal, Chartwells offers several organic vegetarian and vegan options for students who avoid dairy and meat. Popular vegetarian entrees are Parmesan buttered noodles and macaroni and cheese.
For that cup of coffee early in the morning or late at night, Chartwells serves Fair Trade organic coffee, which is purchased directly from growers at a higher than market price and is grown and harvested under healthy working conditions. Orman says Chartwells donates 10 cents from every pound of Seattle’s Best Coffee it purchases to support Third World coffee-producing regions.
In an attempt to curb waste, Chartwells in August 2010 began selling reusable containers to students, faculty and staff who take their meals, or leftovers, to go. Orman notes that this is a sustainable alternative to wrapping food in several sheets of foil and plastic wrap. Students then return the dirty container to the cafeteria in exchange for a clean, sanitized one.
Living Green Team
The Living Green Teem consists of 20 enthusiastic students (federal work study eligible) who assist students, faculty and staff in the cafeteria and Roost dispose of their leftover food and waste in the most sustainable way. They advise on what can be composted, recycled and sent to landfills. This also involves them in the College's effort to live out its core value of stewardship concerning the resources entrusted to us. These students also support recycling and waste sorting during residence hall move-in and move-out days and at the two public recycling events for the campus and larger Elmhurst community.