Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.48
Liaison David Gibson
Submission Date March 30, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

College of the Atlantic
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Andrea Russell
Sustainability Coordinator and Community Energy Center Program Manager
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"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a published sustainable dining policy?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainable dining policy:

College of the Atlantic (COA) has resolved that dining services “shall strive to purchase fair trade certified products whenever possible given budgetary restraints. This includes rice and most fruits and vegetables of non-US origin.” We have two specific food policies, one of which is for meat and the other for coffee. The Meat Purchasing Policy states that we shall only “purchase safe, Maine-raised meat, including beef. In this instance, ‘safe’ means that the farms the College purchases from will have humane, free-range animal facilities and will refrain from the use of hormones, antibiotics and animal protein feed.” The policy further states that the college will pursue certified organic products when available. The Fair Trade Coffee Policy states that, “College of the Atlantic will restrict the purchasing of coffee by Take A Break (our dining services) and all other offices to brands that are organic and Fair Trade Certified by TransFair USA, its successor organization or another independently monitored labeling Non Governmental Organization.” COA is currently the only institution in Maine with a commitment to the Real Food Challenge, which is used to gauge assessment of our purchasing policies.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor source food from a campus garden or farm?:
Yes

A brief description of the program to source food from a campus garden or farm:

COA owns and operates two farms on Mount Desert Island. Peggy Rockefeller Farms manage 45 acres of organic farmland, certified by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), and raise certified organic fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, broilers, turkeys, pasture and hay, as well as pasture-based beef and lamb. Beech Hill Farm is also a MOFGA certified organic farm with 73-acres of property which includes six acres of fields in vegetable production, three small heirloom apple orchards, pasture land for pigs and poultry, five greenhouses, and open forest. There is also an on-campus community garden which offers plots to community members and students to gain experience gardening. The student plot provides fresh vegetables for the COA kitchen and for local food pantries.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host a farmers market, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery program, and/or urban agriculture project, or support such a program in the local community?:
Yes

A brief description of the farmers market, CSA or urban agriculture project:

COA’s Beech Hill Farm runs a farm stand which is open from June until October, and offers a wide variety of fresh, seasonal produce and locally-produced goods. The BHF farm stand carries bread, dairy, meat, honey, jams, gifts and snacks from other farms and producers located on Mount Desert Island. BHF also offers a CSA program that runs from June until August, with options for a full-season share (20 weeks), summer share (10 weeks), or fall share (10 weeks). We also run a program called Share the Harvest which acts as a liaison between the MDI community and the local food system, ensuring access to resources to sustain an equitable food system. The program works with island food pantries and other organizations dedicated to eradicating food insecurity and distributing farm stand vouchers, subsidized farm shares, and Harvest Deliveries to community members in need. It is run by COA students and farm managers, and it supplied food for approximately 50 local families last season.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a vegan dining program that makes diverse, complete-protein vegan options available to every member of the campus community at every meal?:
Yes

A brief description of the vegan dining program:

The college offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner five days each week. There are both vegetarian and vegan options (including main courses, sides, and desserts) at every meal in both our dining hall and our cafe. All vegan and vegetarian options are clearly marked as such on the menu boards in the dining hall and cafe.

Some recent vegan menu items include:
Burritos with sweet potato, kale, rice, beans, zucchini & summer squash
Tempeh, Israeli couscous, and green beans
Thai lemongrass veggie stew, and rice
Stuffed portabella, red quinoa, and broccoli rabe
Ethiopian white bean peanut stew with cauliflower
Shawarma: Chickpeas (in a pita) and dolmas (grape leaves)


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host low impact dining events (e.g. Meatless Mondays)?:
Yes

A brief description of the low impact dining events:

Both dining centers on the COA campus, a full dining hall and a small cafe, strive for low impact dining everyday. Service options accommodate vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters including 3-4 vegetarian meals a week and using as many local and organic ingredients as possible. It is standard to offer meatless meals regularly throughout the five-days-a-week, three-meals-a-day service. We also actively encourage students to bring their own dining ware to meals served outside of regular service to reduce the use of disposable items.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host sustainability-themed meals (e.g. local harvest dinners)?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainability-themed meals:

COA Farm day is the College’s most prominent sustainability-themed meal. This annual celebration day takes place at the college-owned Beech Hill Farm, and the entire team from the dining hall, Take-A-Break, works there for the day to prepare a delicious meal made with organic and natural ingredients, most coming from Beech Hill Farm itself. Farm Day at COA is an important day that every member of the community is invited to participate in. The event also includes special guest talks about climate change, natural resources, food systems, and other sustainability-themed topics. Classes are shortened to facilitate student engagement, and the school provides vanpool transportation to and from the farm to campus.

Share the Harvest is one of the most visible examples of COA’s belief in the importance of fresh, organic, local food being available for everyone. This program provides MDI residents with access to local organic food. Students, staff, and faculty gather together to celebrate at our annual Share the Harvest dinner. The event is hosted by COA’s Beech Hill Farm. Thanks to this event, every year families on MDI can reap the benefits of eating locally, and together we “Share the Harvest.”


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host a sustainability-themed food outlet on-site, either independently or in partnership with a contractor or retailer?:
No

A brief description of the sustainability-themed food outlet:

COA has a single dining hall and a single cafe, but does not have "food outlets".


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor inform customers about low impact food choices and sustainability practices through labeling and signage in dining halls?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainability labeling and signage in dining halls:

At every meal, dining services posts menu items in the dining hall as well as online. Menu items are marked for local origin, certified organic or fair-trade status, and other sustainability characteristics such as originating from COA-owned farms.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor engage in outreach efforts to support learning and research about sustainable food systems?:
Yes

A brief description of the outreach efforts to support learning and research about sustainable food systems:

We have a sustainable food program dedicated to education of students and the community that permeates our entire dining operations. Education is paramount both on and off campus from our Real-Food Challenge, to community events at our two organic farms to the student food group which is a sub group to student life. There are sustainable food system assistance work-study positions and a program to engage k-12 students in food systems through partnership with an area farm.

Each term COA offers multiple courses in food system studies and sustainable agriculture. Various options are available for students to complete research in these areas through classes, independent studies, and senior projects. Faculty research in this area is encouraged as well.

Specific classes: COA Foodprint allows students study the conditions which food on campus is produced, transported, and prepared, as well as examine who is involved in this complex system. Students partner with COA’s kitchen and farm managers, vendors, and food systems faculty to analyze COA’s "foodprint" to move forward in the college’s goal and apply what they have learned to local production and food security.

Specific groups: COA’s Food Group and Food Systems Group are on-campus opportunities for students to participate with the annual Farm Day and the Food and Farming Workshop Series, both of which offer community and student education about sustainable food systems.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have other sustainability-related initiatives (e.g. health and wellness initiatives, making culturally diverse options available)?:
Yes

A brief description of the other sustainability-related dining initiatives:

COA’s dining services collaborate with courses and student activities to offer regular cultural meals highlighting traditional foods from our diverse student body. For example, the Anthropology of Food class works with dining services on a 3-week collaboration featuring foods that are culturally and emotionally significant to students. Dining services also offers an International Food Night in partnership with the International Department, introducing diners to a variety of dishes from a wide array of countries.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor participate in a competition or commitment program and/or use a food waste prevention system to track and improve its food management practices?:
Yes

A brief description of the food recovery competition or commitment program or food waste prevention system:

Meals are thoughtfully planned to make best use of the ingredients on-hand and to synchronize current and future preparation needs. Everything is labeled and dated. Any prepared items, such as chopped veggies, that are not used in their intended meal are incorporated into the salad/sandwich bar or another meal item. Any non-edible waste like stems and ends are composted. Many vegetable scraps get made into soup stock. Any food that does expire gets composted.

Leftovers are always served at the next meal at a reduced price. Large quantities of leftovers which cannot be consumed during mealtime are given away to the community free of charge. Sandwiches and soups that are not sold in the cafe are put into a vending machine to reduce food loss and to have wholesome food available for purchase by the community all day.


Has the institution or its primary dining services contractor implemented trayless dining (in which trays are removed from or not available in dining halls) and/or modified menus/portions to reduce post-consumer food waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the trayless dining or modified menu/portion program:

The COA dining hall doesn't have trays. This helps to discourage diners from taking excess food. Some menu items have side and entree portion options and diners may request to be served a smaller portion. After eating, diners take their dishes to a window where food and napkins are emptied into compost bins before dishes are passed into the kitchen to be washed. Diners may bring their own containers or request a recycled container from the dining hall to take leftover food with them.

No specific practices is employed to track post-consumer food waste, but the kitchen staff ask for size needed when serving customers to minimize food waste.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor donate food that would otherwise go to waste to feed people?:
Yes

A brief description of the food donation program:

Beech Hill Farm (BHF) donates surplus food through various programs. BHF works with the Good Shepard Food Bank and the Bar Harbor Food Pantry to provide over 2,000 pounds of food annually to food pantry clients. COA’s farms also work with Healthy Acadia's gleaning initiative. Last year alone, the gleaning initiative spared 3,179lbs of food that would have otherwise been composted or fed to livestock. Both of COA’s farms never put any organic waste into the landfill, as organic waste is always composted on site or fed to animals.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor divert food materials from the landfill, incinerator or sewer for animal feed or industrial uses (e.g. converting cooking oil to fuel, on-site anaerobic digestion)?:
Yes

A brief description of the food materials diversion program:

We run an extensive compost system that composts everything from our dining services to every building on campus, including but not limited to discarded resources from dorm kitchens. The compost is used at our community gardens and both of our farms. We have close to 100% diversion of food waste.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a pre-consumer composting program?:
Yes

A brief description of the pre-consumer composting program:

During food preparation the kitchen staff collects scraps from the meal prep process. These scraps are placed in bins behind the cafeteria and picked up by work-study students to be taken to the nearby composting bins in the community garden area.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a post-consumer composting program?:
Yes

A brief description of the post-consumer composting program:

Post-consumer food waste, including both food and napkins, is scraped from plates and bowls by diners into bins at the dish receiving area. These bins are collected regularly throughout the day and taken outside to the back of the kitchen area where they are picked up by work study students and deposited in the compost bins in the community garden or brought to the school's farms for our on-farm composting system.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor utilize reusable service ware for “dine in” meals?:
Yes

A brief description of the reusable service ware program:

Nearly all meals at COA are "dine-in." In our main dining hall (serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner five days/week) we primarily use reusable service ware. Compostable service ware is usually only used for dinner desserts. The cafe (serving lunch five days per week) also primarily uses reusable service ware for dine-in meals. Students are allowed to take the ceramic dishes, bowls, mugs, and metal silverware from the cafeteria to eat outside. This program eliminates the need for most disposable service ware in the main dining hall. Students can request to-go containers from the cafe. Compostable service ware is used for occasional outdoor events and special receptions. Items that do not compost easily on site are transported to a licensed composting facility.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor provide reusable and/or third party certified compostable containers and service ware for “to-go” meals (in conjunction with an on-site composting program)?:
Yes

A brief description of the compostable containers and service ware:

Nearly all meals at COA are "dine-in." In our main dining hall (serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner five days/week) we primarily use reusable service ware. Compostable service ware is usually only used for dinner desserts. The cafe (serving lunch five days per week) also primarily uses reusable service ware for dine-in meals. Students are allowed to take the ceramic dishes, bowls, mugs, and metal silverware from the cafeteria to eat outside. This program eliminates the need for most disposable service ware in the main dining hall. Students can request to-go containers from the cafe. Compostable service ware is used for occasional outdoor events and special receptions. Items that do not compost easily on site are transported to a licensed composting facility.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor offer discounts or other incentives to customers who use reusable containers (e.g. mugs) instead of disposable or compostable containers in “to-go” food service operations?:
Yes

A brief description of the reusable container discount or incentives program:

In both our campus cafe and dining hall we offer only reusable dining ware. We do however offer a discount as an incentive for people who bring their own reusable cup for beverage purchases.

If you bring your own coffee mug, the cost of coffee is half price. If you need to use a college coffee cup there is a $1 fee (a deposit) that is redeemable with the return of the cup.


Has the institution or its primary dining services contractor implemented other materials management initiatives to minimize waste not covered above (e.g. working with vendors and other entities to reduce waste from food packaging)?:
Yes

A brief description of other dining services materials management initiatives:

Every bathroom on campus has a compost bin set up for both food waste and napkins/paper towels - both of which are made with 100% recycled material.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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We are currently the only institution in Maine with a commitment to the Real Food Challenge and we use that commitment to gauge our assessment of our purchasing policies.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.