During the academic year, ISU composts roughly 4,200 lbs of food waste per week. Pulpers have been installed that are connected to the dish line in two of the three dining centers on campus. Once guests have finished their meals and returned their dishes to the dish line, leftover food and napkins are rinsed off the dishes and enter the pulper.
In the pulper, the food waste is ground up and the water is removed before it is emptied into a container. The container is transported to the University Farm where it is mixed in with other organic material and composted in windrows.
Food is an important part of our daily lives and it is also an important component in sustainability. What it is, where it is produced, how it is processed, and the distance it traveled to be on one's plate are all factors that have a significant impact on the food's quality, nutritional value, and its environmental footprint.
The state of Illinois, and McLean County in particular, has some of the richest farmland in the world. According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, nearly 80% of the state's total land area is involved in agricultural production. Despite these facts, 90% of the food consumed in Illinois is imported from other states and countries.
In an effort to raise awareness about the social and environmental benefits of local foods, Campus Dining Services hosts an annual local foods dinner.
Check out select recipes from the 2010 Local Foods Dinner!
Campus Dining Services anticipates an increase in requests for seafood in the coming years. This is a global trend that is reflected in the decline of many fish populations around the world. Recognizing the need to balance environmental responsibility with their customers’ expectations, ISU Campus Dining Services has set a goal of purchasing seafood from sustainable fisheries. ISU chefs use Blue Ocean Institute's "Guide to Ocean Friendly Seafood" as a reference when placing orders for seafood.
Campus Dining has jumped on the bandwagon, along with several hundred other colleges and universities across the country to reduce waste and their environmental footprint. Linkins Dining Center went trayless beginning the fall semester of 2008 and after the Watterson Food Court renovation is completed, it too will be trayless.
Washing cafeteria-style trays uses one-third to one-half gallon of water per tray, as well as chemical detergents and drying agents.
During the 2007-2008 academic year Linkins Dining Center served about 245,000 meals, using approximately 196,000 trays. By eliminating trays in this one dining center, approximately 58,800-98,000 gallons of water were saved in one school year alone. This initiative has, and will continue to conserve soap, water, steam, and electricity, as well as reduce the heat load of the buildings.
Without trays, students are also wasting less food. It is often the human tendency to fill up a tray with all of the foods anticipated to be consumed. Research however, has found that when an individual chooses only the food that they can carry, they are satisfied with much less food. The second trip to obtain more food is less likely to happen, as well as the opportunity to throw away what the individual was too full to eat.