On-campus residents and commuters alike often find themselves taking advantage of the many dining options MSU has to offer. Regardless of where one chooses to eat, MSU’s Culinary Services puts tremendous effort into making the dining halls, including Miller and Rendezvous, and the shops in the SUB sustainable. By providing local options from all around Montana and compostable and reusable dining ware, the commitment culinary services department makes to prevent waste, in addition to its support of local vendors, showcases a planet-friendly ethic. Kara Landolfi, the supply chain manager for Culinary Services, highlighted the many ways that the dining options at MSU are sustainable as well as the ways students can get involved with the efforts.
“When we think about sustainability for our operation, first and foremost, it hits with what we’ll be purchasing,” Landolfi said. The department works with over 100 local vendors that supply a quarter of the food used on campus, allowing for the meals to be partially if not entirely produced by local companies. These vendors supply everything from meat and dairy products to bread, flour and vegetables. Landolfi pointed out that students who try to incorporate more local items into their diets can check the line cards above the dishes or the nutrition page on MSU’s Culinary Services website at https://www.montana.edu/culinaryservices/ to see which items are local. These resources are also helpful for planning meals around dietary restrictions. These features make choosing local options easier for students and ensures that the demand for local items continues to be high enough to incorporate more vendors.
Another important measure the department takes to remain sustainable is to minimize food waste. Between the workers and students, several steps are taken to make the correct amount of food to serve the MSU community. Landolfi says this is one of the most significant challenges since the dining facilities can see “thousand person swings on either side” of the estimated number of customers. The dining facilities adjust as they go to make the right amount of food on days when they are expecting to serve about ten thousand people. This forecasting prevents waste and makes sure the university is not wasting money on food or the staff preparing uneaten food. Once the food has been served, the dining services also provide compost to lessen the amount of food waste entering landfills. Landolfi pointed out that encouraging students to only take what they will eat and using the slogan “Taste it, Don’t Waste It” was put in place so students would try unfamiliar foods before loading their plate full of it.
The services they provide keeps the dining facilities at MSU sustainable, demonstrates the commitment the school is making to support local companies and minimizes waste.