Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 73.23
Liaison Heather Albert-Knopp
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2022

STARS v2.2

College of the Atlantic
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.80 / 2.00 Andrea Russell
Sustainability Coordinator and Community Energy Center Program Manager
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Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host a farmers market, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery program, 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 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 support disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through its food and beverage purchasing?:
No

A brief description of the support for disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local SMEs:

College of the Atlantic absolutely does support disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and local SMEs. However, we do not track these purchases as such.


Estimated percentage of total food and beverage expenditures on products from disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local SMEs:
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Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host low impact dining events or promote plant-forward options?:
Yes

A brief description of the low impact dining events and/or plant-forward options:

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 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 inform customers about low impact food choices and sustainability practices through labelling and signage in dining halls?:
Yes

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

At every meal, dining service staff post 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 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 always has trayless dining. 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 reused container from the dining hall to take leftover food with them.

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. The gleaning initiative annually spares about 3,000lbs of food that would have otherwise been composted or fed to livestock. Both of COA’s farms never put any organic waste in with non-diverted waste (trash), 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?:
No

A brief description of the food materials diversion program:

N/A.


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:

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. 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. The compost is then sent to a contracted 3rd party, Agricycle for processing. We have close to 100% diversion of food waste.


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:

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. 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 scraps are placed in bins behind the cafeteria and picked up by work-study students to be taken to the nearby composting bins. The compost is then sent to a contracted 3rd party, Agricycle for processing. We have close to 100% diversion of food waste.


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 almost exclusively 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 almost exclusively 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 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.


A brief description of other sustainability-related initiatives not covered above:

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.

In addition to our dining services, all leftover meals go to our community fridge. The community fridge is a safety net for students in need of free food. Relying on the kindness of the community, the fridge is often stocked with at least 10 meals a week, and is open to anyone on campus in need of food. The foundation of the community fridge is built upon the Food Access Movement and reciprocal giving. Our community fridge has a dedicated position in the work-study program, making it student led and accessible to anyone in the COA community.


Website URL where information about the sustainable dining programs is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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