Sunday, January 25, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Per Capita Davis: UCD Dining Services ensures a healthy student body

JohnMott-SmithW

By
From page B3 | November 21, 2013 |

I’m always impressed when an organization takes a soup-to-nuts look at how it can promote sustainability in its operations, and back in July I wrote about how the state Department of Fish and Wildlife was doing just that. Well, there’s another organization closer to home that is showing real leadership in sustainability.

A short while back I had the pleasure of hearing a presentation from the folks at UC Davis Dining Services titled “Eating Away Our Carbon Footprint: Sustainable Practices in UC Dining Services.” What seemed like a rather pedestrian title became a stunning explication of a comprehensive program to pursue sustainability and environmental responsibility.

A brief aside: I sometimes fear that the stream of very positive articles from me about what UC Davis is doing in regards to sustainability might get tiresome for readers but, truly, what is happening on the campus in our community is remarkable and it is pervasive throughout seemingly every nook and cranny of the university’s operations.

So please bear with me as I toot their horn again.

The official goal of the UC system is to provide 20 percent of the food consumed at university facilities from sustainable sources by 2020. UCD, however, already has met that goal, and has set its sights on 40 percent by 2020. And the goal is not just environmental: Staff indicate that doing so can encourage a more “healthy student body” by reducing the “freshman 15” (estimated pounds of weight gained by first-year college students) down to five.

Importantly, they have employees whose jobs are to promote sustainability, a director of sustainability and nutrition, a sustainability manager and a sustainability and education coordinator. Assigning people to reach a goal is the difference between talking about something and actually getting it done.

One of the biggest challenges of eating sustainably is that it generally costs more to purchase, for example, grass-fed beef and eggs from cage-free chickens. UC Dining Services, however, figured out how to offset these increases. A seemingly simple switch from providing a tray for students to use for multiple food items (a plate for a burger, a bowl for fruits, etc.) to not providing the tray had very positive results.

First, and the most obvious, there’s no need to clean trays that aren’t used. Nor is there a need to buy new trays over time. But the real savings were not from the trays themselves. Since there’s less space on a plate than on a tray, students tended to take less food. They ate the same amount, but wasted less. So, the university got a double benefit: reduced cost to buy food and, according to the Dining Service’s bi-quarterly waste audit report, reduced food waste by 50 percent.

The “no tray” practice has become a national norm for university food systems.

UCD also instituted a “Try a Taste” program that lets students taste a menu item before putting it on their plate. This practice also significantly reduced waste.

UCD Dining Services, as mentioned above, provides grass-fed beef for burgers as well as cage-free eggs for various menu items. There is a standing “Meatless Monday” promotion wherein, while meat is still on the menu, a non-meat item is highlighted and advertised as a vegetarian option.

They also organize a “Green Chef Challenge” similar to the popular Iron Chef challenges, to come up with recipes that take advantage of food sourced from the Student Farm. And the Cuarto Dining Hall is generally recognized as having the best salad bar in Yolo County.

Initiation of food composting at all resident dining halls and other eating establishments was a key factor in increasing the university’s overall waste diversion.

And just how thorough is UCD Dining Services in its approach to sustainability of the campus food system? Two examples serve to give an idea. Have you ever wanted a Snickers bar when at a football game at Aggie Stadium? You won’t find one because the wrappers are not compostable. Aggie Stadium is a zero-waste facility, right down to the replacement of plastic straws with compostable straws.

And, if you wonder why you can’t find a plastic lid for your soft drink at the Coffee House, it’s because thus far they have been unable to find a lid that is compostable.

The UCD program also reaches into the community. It operates a “Food Recovery Network” that sends surplus production from the Student Farm to Davis Community Meals and César Chávez Plaza.

As a parent of a student who attended one of the other UC campuses, I was particularly impressed with the UCD “Swipe Out Hunger” program. Students are issued cards (like a credit card) to “swipe” at any of the various food outlets on campus. Through Thursday, students may sign up to donate a maximum of 10 swipes worth of food to the Yolo Food Bank. In 2012, this allowed Dining Services to purchase (at cost from its bulk food provider) 335 cases of food that the Food Bank was able to use to assist 8,000 to 10,000 Yolo County families.

— John Mott-Smith is a resident of Davis; this column is published on the first and third Thursdays of each month. Send comments to johnmottsmith@comcast.net

Comments

comments

John Mott-Smith

.

News

Four days of unusual, adventuresome music

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Bridges of Yolo County: Wear, tear … repair?

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
GOP presses state bills limiting gay rights before ruling

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Abortion opponents express renewed hope at California rally

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Spanish police arrest 4 suspected members of a jihadi cell

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Rockets kill 30 in Ukrainian city as rebels launch offensive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Abe ‘speechless’ after video claims IS hostage dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Fake schools draw federal scrutiny

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Winter produce available at Sutter market

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Vote for your favorites in Readers’ Choice poll

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Sip wines at St. James’ annual tasting

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Share your love (story) with us

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Donations to be distributed during homeless count

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

 
Speaker will share computer security tips

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Logos Books celebrates 5 years, offers language groups

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Australian olive oil company opens U.S. headquarters in Woodland

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Explore at the YOLO Outdoor Expo

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Yolo animal shelter seeking rawhide donations

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A5

Woodland Healthcare employees take Great Kindness Challenge

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
At the Pond: Nest boxes give birds new homes

By Jean Jackman | From Page: A6 | Gallery

California ranks worst in nation for guidance counselors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Davis, Woodland are saving water

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A12

Words and Music Festival events

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A12

 
.

Forum

 
Caring for the aging mouth

By Samer Alassaad | From Page: A8

 
We have the right to choose

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

We don’t have to suffer

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
City helped immensely

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Rick McKee cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

 
Big utilities’ nightmare begins to play out

By Tom Elias | From Page: A10

Mayor’s Corner: Let’s renew Davis together

By Dan Wolk | From Page: A10

 
From innovation parks to innovative buildings and planning

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

When measles spreads from Disneyland, it’s a small world after all

By New York Times News Service | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Loud crowd sees DHS boys win

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Lady Devils hold off Pacers, stay perfect in league

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Wildcats’ inaugural kids development league exceeds expectations

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggies get top 2015 gymnastics score, but fall short

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

UCD men take two tennis matches

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

 
Watney in ninth at Humana Challenge

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B8

.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

Davis man focusing on cannabidiol business

By Will Bellamy | From Page: A9

 
Marrone Bio’s Regalia approved for new uses in Canada

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

 
UCD grad makes insurance ‘hot 100′ list

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Yolo County real estate sales

By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A9

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, January 25, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B8