Sustainability is essential to our operations at the University of St. Thomas. Our five tent poles of sustainable practices encumbrances all areas of service within our units. As a department, constantly strive to find new areas where we can apply these practices to our operations to provide a sustainable dining experience.
Coffee: We are committed to working with vendors that uphold the same values and ethics which the St. Thomas community has come to expect. Dining Services sources coffee from B&W Specialty Coffee and Peace Coffee. Both roasteries source green coffee from ethically and environmentally minded providers. These partnerships with our vendors provides not only a sustainable but locally sourced option reducing transportation emissions through the entire production process.
Retail Products: Dining Services offers a variety of locally sourced and organic options in its retail locations. These include locally-sourced bagels and breads, sushi, nuts, and more. Sandwiches and wraps made on site further reduce transportation costs and provides a cost effective solution for our guests.
Fruits and Vegetables: Dining Services is also proud to work with the St. Thomas Stewardship Garden. A community garden located on campus, which provides fresh fruits and vegetables to The View during the summer months. Established and maintained by students, the garden has received state-wide attention through its community involvement.
LEED Certification: Three out of our 10 locations — including the department’s administrative offices, bakery, and catering operations — are located in the Anderson Student Center (ASC). Completed in 2011, the ASC is LEED gold certified. In the ASC is The View, the largest dining location at the university, serving on average 2,800 meals per day.
Dining Services takes advantage of naturally-lit facilities, water efficiency systems, and lighting controls. Learn more about the ASC’s LEED certification »
In spring 2019, St. Thomas is starting construction of new residence halls on the St. Paul campus. This project is slated for a fall 2020 completion. An additional dining location will be included in this new facility, which has been planned to meet LEED certification criteria. Learn more about the construction plans »
Napkin Dispensers: All napkins used are made from 100% recycled fibers. In fall 2018, Dining Services installed napkin dispensers in The View to replace napkin baskets on tables. This initiative resulted in 90,000 less napkins used over the 2018-19 year.
Food Waste Reduction: In 2013, Dining Services removed trays from both of its cafeteria style dining halls. By removing trays, the University has been able to save thousands of gallons water per year and has reduced food waste.
In fall 2019, Dining Services will launch a new Unlimited Meal Plan that offers umlimited trips to campus dining locations. Studies show that unlimited dining plans reduce food waste as students don't feel the need to take extra large portions during trips to the dining halls. With unlimited dining, students know they can take just what they'll eat on that trip as they can come back at anytime to get a snack or additional food.
Cooking Oil Recycling: Used cooking oil from all dining facilities is recycled into biodiesel, saving landfill space and an estimated 25,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
Paper Usage: Dining Services continually works to remove paper goods from its dining facilities reducing our impact on waste. In addition, we work to reduce paper usage in our administrative offices. By using printing management software, we are able to track and make decisions to reduce paper usage and monitor our impact on the environment. We are committed to recycling as well, learn more at: stthomas.edu/recycle.
Dining Services is proud to partner with community organizations to donate left over or unused food product. Through the collaboration of student and culinary staff the university holds a chapter with the Food Recovery Network which helps to “fight food waste and hunger by recovering perishable food that would otherwise go to waste.” In 2018-19, over 3,600 pounds of food were recovered through this program, and were used at the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul, a Catholic Charities operation.
University of St. Thomas started a composting pilot program at the Binz Refectory dining hall in Fall 2017. Approximately 1,600 pounds per week are composted from this location.
In 2014 we switched 100% of our hot beverage cups to a biodegradable solution made from recycled materials. These coffee cups integrate the sleeve into the cup which eliminates materials and transportation emissions from additional shipments.
In an effort to further reduce our impact on waste, disposed food waste within our cafeteria units are donated to local farmers for use with agriculture. This solution is both economical and resourceful in maximizing the utility of leftover food waste.
Learn more about waste, recycling and St. Thomas initiatives at stthomas.edu/recycle.
Food Waste at St. Thomas
Did you know? Food waste from The View is collected in barrels and sent to hog farms for use as pig feed. This process normally happens behind the scenes, but during Sustainability Week in April 2019, student volunteers brought sorting out of the kitchen through plate waste demonstrations.
Just how much food waste is produced in The View? On Wednesday, April 24, there were 121 pounds collected during lunch, and 133 pounds during dinner. On average, St. Thomas produces 8,000-10,000 pounds of food waste per week during the academic year. That is just part of an estimated 22 million pounds of food waste produced at college and university campuses throughout the U.S. each year, according to the Food Recovery Network.
Food waste is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions. You can help by sticking to appropriate portion sizes when filling your plate in our all-you-care-to-eat dining facilities.