[This page was originally created by intern Julia Ward from Lafayette College.]
The Dining Services offered at local colleges and universities have taken some measures to becoming more environmentally sustainable. Specifically, Lafayette serves some produce from the student organic garden; Lehigh has also taken steps to reduce waste in on-campus dining halls and has created community gardens, and Muhlenberg is trying to increase local food purchases. Overall, though, campus dining services do not serve healthy, sustainably-grown food.
Do campus dining services contribute to sustainability and health? This is an ongoing problem on most college campuses, and there has been little progress towards eliminating food from the industrial food system — food that undermines your health instead of supporting it. Many of the foods that are served at the dining halls on campus are contaminated with pesticides and preservatives that negatively impact the health both of those who eat it and those who live in the communities where it is grown.
Another problem that is a result of conventionally-grown meats and dairy products is that they are grown using antibiotics and hormones. Antibiotic-resistant pathogens are then created because of the regular use of antibiotics in food production, harming human populations. (Over 75% of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are used to promote animal growth, not for treatment of disease!)
Because there has been so little progress towards the organically-grown food we need to support our health, we have added a page with resources for sustainable campus dining.
There are steps that can be taken to reduce the amount of waste in the dining halls after each meal. Every campus should donate leftover food to organizations that serve people in need and compost all remaining food waste. Also, by supporting organic farming and sustainably grown food, institutions would improve their communities’ health drastically and create a better environment. Another option would be to educate incoming students on the impact that healthy eating has on their minds, bodies, and environment, helping to make sustainability a permanent goal.
There are many changes and steps that can be taken to create a better, more sustainable food environment at both of these schools located in the Lehigh Valley. By doing so, the members of the community will not only benefit drastically but the surrounding environment and local economy will be positively influenced.
We’d like to hear your ideas! [Contact us by email]
Two student interns looked at campus dining services at their individual campuses. Read their reports [both in PDF format]: [Lafayette Dining (2011)] • [Lehigh Dining (2010)]
Also see our Focus On… pages on:
You can be an active part of the Alliance’s work to rethink the system and create change! [See our Internships section]
People in Lehigh Valley schools might want to compare their campus food to that served on campus in the colleges & universities in Toronto. One school has an impressive 60% local food purchasing—pretty good for a school there.
See this blog post for more information: Campus Food — look at Toronto’s example