Contributing to a Responsible Food System
Our dining team strives every day to create a responsible dining program. From working to minimize waste, support local partners with responsible sourcing, and creating green dining facilities, we are always looking for new ways to care for our world through a sustainable food system.
In the 2018-2019 academic year, Elon Dining sourced over 30% verified sustainable food.
Our team is passionate about incorporating local, seasonal ingredients into menus as much as possible. Elon Dining has implemented a preferential purchasing system that identifies food grown or produced within 150 miles, and its sustainable attributes. Local produce is harvested closest to its peak for a fresher, more flavorful nutrient-filled result. Not only do local foods tend to be fresher, local purchasing reduces transportation carbon emissions and invests money into community based operations. Look for locally grown signage to taste the best flavors our area has to offer, celebrate the season selections, and support the local efforts of our community!
Plant based foods (vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc) are proven to have a lower environmental impact than resource intensive animal products. With continuous recipe development for vibrant and unique plant based options, Elon Dining provides diverse, complete-protein vegan dining options at all meals. McEwen Dining Hall, Clohan Hall, and a number of our retail locations have menus dedicated to plant based options.
Our livestock farmers and ranchers share our high standards for humane animal treatment and environmental sustainability. We source beef, pork, chicken, and turkey from North Carolina farms using regenerative agriculture principles, and certified animal welfare practices. All meats are free of antibiotics, growth hormones, and are fed vegetarian diets.
We serve beef certified as Global Animal Partnership Step 4, meaning cattle are on open pasture at all times. This allows natural grazing, enrichment, and eliminates pollution caused by cattle feedlots. By breeding for growth efficient genetics, cattle require less feed, resulting in a smaller greenhouse gas footprint.
We serve pork certified as Global Animal Partnership Step 1, meaning pigs are free to roam and interact with each other, and free of gestation crates.
We serve chicken and turkey that are Certified Humane, which ensures poultry are hatched, raised, transported, and processed following animal welfare standards. Our chicken and turkey are raised naturally with access to enriched, uncrowded indoor/outdoor nesting, and self-regulated eating and drinking schedules.
We serve cage free eggs from hens in enriched colony housing, which allows natural behaviors like nesting, perching, scratching, and socializing.
Elon Dining uses Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch recommendations to source seafood that is wild caught or farmed using responsible methods. Using continuously updated standards specific to North Carolina, we source only Best Choice or Good Alternative seafood.
Fair Trade coffee is served in all residential, retail, and catering dining operations. Elon Dining Services recognizes the need for social and environmental responsibility towards farm workers, our customers, and our communities. Benefits of these programs for coffee farmers mean community development, health, education, and environmental stewardship.
As of 2019, McEwen Dining Hall is a Green Restaurant Certified location, meeting efficiency standards in water conservation, waste reduction, sustainable food, and pollution reduction.
The most important step to food waste prevention happens before our ingredients even reach our kitchens: planning to match food production to food consumption. Our teams track ingredient consumption and use daily, creating more efficient and informed menu forecasting. Click here to read about the food waste management system we use in Lakeside Dining Hall!
Every month, post-consumer food waste audits are conducted in different dining halls to track improvement and involve students on efforts to reduce waste. In the 2018-19 academic year, Clohan Hall held the record for lowest food waste with 2.2 oz. per person.
In all dining locations, 100% of cooking oil that is no longer food safe is recycled into biodiesel. In the 2018-2019 academic year, we recycled over 10,000 pounds of used oil, offsetting carbon emissions equivalent to planting 1,297 trees.
By eliminating trays in dining locations, we conserve water and energy used in dishwashing, as well as reduce consumer food waste.
Dining Services composts all pre and post-consumer food waste from every dining kitchen across campus. By diverting our food waste to compost, we decrease our landfill footprint and contribute to nutrient rich soil in North Carolina. During the 2018-2019 academic year, Dining Services composted 160 tons of organic material. Click here to read an article about the third party company, Brooks Contractor, who collects and converts our compost!
With giveaway events and discounts, Elon Dining makes reusables as easy as possible. Each student with a meal plan is given a reusable to-go container at the beginning of the year to use at residential dining locations. Our reusable straw packs are available for $4.99 at Fountain Market. You can also bring your own mug or water bottle to any campus dining facility to use for coffee or fountain drinks!
For times when reusables aren’t available, Elon Dining provides 100% compostable silverware, cups, lids, and napkins. You can help reduce our landfill waste stream by sorting compostables into the right bins – look for the orange lids!
Elon Dining recycles pre-consumer plastic, paper, cardboard, and aluminum, and partners with Elon University to provide post-consumer recyclable options when compostable isn’t available.