Campus Dining Services at Illinois State is committed to sustainability in various ways. While some of these efforts have been around for years, there are new efforts beginning on a regular basis.
A group of civic minded volunteer students dedicate their time to provide transportation of food from Campus Dining Catering to a local food pantry. During the fall 2016 semester, 1516 pounds of food were donated.
The installation of digital signage systems in Watterson Dining Commons and Marketplace at Linkins Center reduces the need for paper signage and table tents in the dining centers for advertising events. Campus Dining has eliminated the use of table tents in the dining centers in favor of these more sustainable information screens. Campus groups (departments, RSOs, etc.) are able to use the information screens at both Watterson Dining Commons and the Marketplace at Linkins for promotional purposes.
Campus Dining now uses a Toyota Prius in place a large van that had been used for departmental mail rounds and deliveries.
Campus Dining participates in a food share program that provides bagels from Einstein Bros. Bagels to local food pantries. Since these bagels do not meet Einstein Bros. Bagels' quality expectation for freshness, they are frozen and donated to a local food bank. This effort began as a result of an Association of Residence Halls executive board member's inquiry.
Campus Dining began a pilot program with local farmers in an effort to incorporate and purchase more local produce for our guests’ consumption. Best practices and lessons learned from this pilot program will be used as Campus Dining further defines the process for purchasing local produce. Challenges to overcome include acquiring the large quantities needed from local farmers to serve the population of students, having the space and equipment to process the produce, and determining the delivery process.
Since 2008, Campus Dining has hosted an annual Local Foods Dinner each year to raise awareness of locally grown and sustainable foods.
Dining centers use permanent dishware as opposed to disposable plates or individually packaged items, leading to less waste.
In 2008, Campus Dining transitioned from an a la carte program to an all-you-care-to-eat service style. This change has led to a reduction in waste due to the elimination of prepackaged items that are necessary in an a la carte environment (i.e., individually packaged yogurt cups versus bulk yogurt that is self-served into a reusable bowl). In addition, Campus Dining batch cooks many menu items. Batch cooking means preparing 20-25 servings at a time in order to heighten food freshness and reduce food waste.
Trayless dining has led to reduced water consumption and energy usage that was required to wash the trays. Additionally, food waste and overconsumption decreases in trayless dining environments.