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.
Our chefs work closely with local food systems to source our food responsibly. By sourcing seasonal ingredients and products produced with integrity, we can sustain responsible partners. To us, sustainable food means ingredients that are plant-based, 3rd party certified as sustainably produced and ingredients that are sourced from local and community based vendors.
From the 2018-2019 academic year to the 2020-2021 academic year, we are proud to say we have increased our third party certified sustainable and plant-based food and beverage sourcing from 27.3% to 43.5%, and we're just getting started!
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 Food Hall, Lakeside Dining Hall, Clohan Hall, and a number of our retail locations have menus dedicated to plant based options. Beginning this year, Clohan Dining Hall serves completely plant based menus, including vegan pizza, a mezze bar, made to order stir fry, and so much more!
Our livestock farmers and ranchers share our high standards for humane animal treatment and environmental sustainability. We source beef, pork, chicken, milk, eggs, 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 milk and ice cream from small herd dairies that utilize rotational pasture grazing. Pastured grazing allows cows greater mobility and quality of life, and reduces environmental impact of land and water use.
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. All three residential locations serve locally roasted Larry’s Coffee, which is certified Organic, Shade Grown, and Kosher, in addition to being Fair Trade.
Sustainable practices extend to our facilities, where our team members work to ensure that our daily operations contribute to a healthy environment.
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.
Through reusables, compostables, and recyclable materials, our teams strive to reduce waste in all forms.
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.