Sustainable Dining

Sodexo Serves Up Sustainability in the Dining Hall

The staff at Colby-Sawyer's Dining Hall has a strong commitment to the health and happiness of our students, as well as to whole systems sustainability. They demonstrate that commitment by preparing nutritious meals from scratch, promoting fair practices in food procurement, conserving resources through creativy and innovation, and supporting ecological balance and carbon reduction. Their efforts help the college move towards the goals outlined in our GreenROUTES Climate Action Plan, but they are also in alignment with Sodexo's own corporate goals outlined in their Better Tomorrow Plan.

Nourishing and Teaching by Example

In 2009 the Dining Hall formed a Sustainable Dining Committee and also began sponsoring a student intern each year to help them achieve and promote their goals. Our very own Becky Bense, the Catering and Operations Manager, was chosen as Sodexo's Regional Champion for Sustainabilty. In that role she's charged with researching best practices and sharing those with her colleagues throughout the Northeast. The initiatives described below capture a portion of what our Dining Hall is currently doing to "Walk the Talk" and provide a living model to help students learn about environmental stewardship and whole-body health.

  • Replaced frozen and canned vegetables with fresh options so we can prepare meals made from scratch and prepare them with care
  • Worked with Black River Produce to procure local vegetables and other products from regional farms in New Hampshire and Vermont, supplying fresher, nutrient-dense produce with low carbon "foodprints"
  • Partnered with the college to purchase fresh picked apples from the Bleiler Family's Cardigan Mountain Orchard in Alexandria,NH, and freshly picked local corn from Greg Berger with Spring Ledge Farm in New London,NH -- discussions begun about possibility of purchasing and serving fresh produce from Musterfield Farm in Sutton,NH
  • Served ethically and sustainably sourced Aspretto Fair Trade Coffees and Organic Teas in materials that are recycled and renewable
  • Switched to “tray-less” dining to save on food waste and energy consumption
  • Replaced bulky takeout boxes with resource-saving paper wrappers
  • Provided Bulk Dispensers for ketchup and other condiments to reduce plastic waste and save money
  • Offered recycled, unbleached napkins in single-pull dispensers
  • Used Greenware compostable dishes and flatware made from corn and starch for special events to avoid petroleum-based plastic products
  • Provided a personal eco-friendly "Walking Our Talk" reusable mug to every student to eliminate trash from paper to-go cups
  • Created “Chows for Sows” buckets to collect food scraps for local pigs, keeping organic materials out of the landfill
  • Particpated in the campus-wide Zero-Sort Recycling program to collect cardboard, paper, plastic (#1-7), glass and metal
  • Gathered fry oil to be reused and converted to biofuels to power local trucks
  • Used Eco-Lab environmentally friendly cleaning products to protect the health of our students and employees and preserve our local lakes and rivers and aquatic species
  • Hosted special events that featured local foods, compostable products, and surprise guests, from a bike-powered smoothie maker to the pigs that enjoy our compost -- Student Gala Holiday Feast & the Earth Fest Barbeque on the Quad
  • Catered Colby-Sawyer's Mountain Day as a zero waste event where classes are cancelled and students, faculty and staff meet on top of the mountain for a picnic and a hike
  • Joined the Meatless Mondays campaign which offers students the opportunity to reduce their personal carbon footprint by choosing vegetarian options one day a week
  • Engaged Sustainability Intern to measure the Dining Hall's energy usage and environmental impact using the Sustainability and Measurement Reporting Tool(SMART) and use that info to develop new programming and initiatives each to support best practices and improve students' experiences
  • Formed Dining Dish Student Committee as an opportunity for students to offer input and suggestions directly to Campus Dining Management Staff about menus, service, or dining room ambiance
  • Committed to replaced older appliances with energy efficient models as needed to reduce our costs and carbon footprint
  • Provided sustainability training, continuing education and community building opportunities for staff via ongoing webinars and the Northwest Earth Institute's discussion course "Menu for the Future"