Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 61.51
Liaison Karen Eckert, Ph.D.
Submission Date March 5, 2021
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Principia College
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
2.00 / 2.00 Trey McCartt
Executive Chef
Dining Services
"---" 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:

Our 2019 Green Dining Standard (uploaded below) states, "Principia shall prioritize the purchase of food, as well as food-related supplies and equipment that meet industry certifications intended to minimize negative impacts on ecological systems and human health and safety, while at the same time upholding palatability, nutritional, financial, and performance criteria."

The Standard articulates five Strategies and ten specific, measurable goals designed to achieve these strategic aims:
Strategy 1: Create a Sustainable Food Task Force
Strategy 2: Prioritize a Sustainable Supply Chain
Strategy 3: Minimize Adverse Environmental Impacts
Strategy 4: Encourage Sustainable Food Systems on Campus
Strategy 5: Promote Education for Sustainability Awareness


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:

Three Rivers Community Farm https://threeriverscommunityfarm.com/, an on-campus CSA, provides (mostly) salad greens, in addition to some root crops, to Dining Services on a seasonal basis (late August to early November). The produce is clearly marked and celebrated in the scramble room (hot meal line).


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:

Three Rivers Community Farm https://threeriverscommunityfarm.com/, an on-campus CSA, provides (mostly) salad greens, in addition to some root crops, to Dining Services on a seasonal basis (late August to early November). The produce is clearly marked and celebrated in the scramble room (hot meal line). Students frequently support the farm through volunteer work, and the college supports the CSA in leasing the land at below-market rates.


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 2019 Green Dining Standard (uploaded below) requires as part of Strategy 4: Encourage Sustainable Food Systems on Campus that, "By 2022, [the college will] provide nutritionally balanced vegan options on the hot line at each meal." The Standard also encourages Dining Services "to increase vegan and plant-forward options on the salad bar and pre-packaged section [and] provide vegan options for dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, by special order and upon request."

Currently, in addition to vegetarian options at every meal, nutritionally balanced vegan options are available at a minimum of one meal (generally two) per day. Both vegetarian and vegan menu options are clearly noted on the daily menu. Additional insights (local, human, pasture-raised, etc.) are provided as laminated logos attributed to various menu items.

To date, new vegan options include a consistent supply of frozen vegan meals and a regular (daily) offering of vegan desserts. Principia was the first college to provide the Beyond Meat burgers in student dining (these are available on the grill at the Piasa Pub). Popular vegan offerings include Buddha Bowls and Jack Fruit BBQ. Menus are posted at http://www.principiacollege.edu/about-principia-college/dining-services/menu.


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:

Vegetarian or vegan in-house catering is available. "Pollinator Dinners" are a popular feature of Sustainability Weekend in October. This event celebrates the importance of pollinators; each dish is labeled as to the pollinators who provided it to us (e.g., Broccoli/ Carrots/ Tomatoes: Honey Bees & Solitary Bees; Apples: Honey Bees, Bumblebees, Solitary Bees & Hover Flies; and so on for dozens of foods). In April, Dining Services provides an all-campus vegetarian lunch for the Earth Day Fair. Dining Services boasts 100% pre- and post-consumer composting for all events and sources 100% renewable electric power.


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:

Vegetarian or vegan in-house catering is available. "Pollinator Dinners" are a popular feature of Sustainability Weekend in October. This event celebrates the importance of pollinators; each dish is labeled as to the pollinators who provided it to us (e.g., Broccoli/ Carrots/ Tomatoes: Honey Bees & Solitary Bees; Apples: Honey Bees, Bumblebees, Solitary Bees & Hover Flies; and so on for dozens of foods). In April, Dining Services provides an all-campus vegetarian lunch for the Earth Day Fair. Dining Services boasts 100% pre- and post-consumer composting for all events and sources 100% renewable electric power.


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?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainability-themed food outlet:

The Piasa Pub! Features include:
• 100% Compostable plates, 'boats', cups/lids/straws, cutlery
• 100% Pre- and Post-Consumer Composting
• Zero Waste Compost and Recycling Bins
• Vegan Options: Plant-Based Lattes, Beyond® Burgers, Chicken-less Nuggets
• Organic Rainforest Alliance Certified Coffee
• USB Charging Stations: Indoor Booths and outdoor Solar Umbrella Tables
• Water Bottle Filling Station
• Bring Your Own Cup: Hot and Cold Drinks
• 100% Renewable Power Since 2009
• Styrofoam™ Free Since 2009
• Paperless Menus


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:

The Piasa Pub has a full-size banner at the entrance celebrating its sustainability offerings and operations (i.e., the bullets listed above); a similar banner is placed at the entrance to the scramble room (hot food line). Vegan and Vegetarian menu options are clearly marked. Local contributions (from our CSA) are clearly marked on the salad bar. Small laminated logos (e.g., local, vegan, free range, humane, organic ...) indicate sustainable options.


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:

Our Executive Chef routinely engages with other colleges and communities, and is a willing guest speaker both in the classroom and to the Sustainability Club. We regularly update advertising, informational posters and videos related to sustainable food systems and campus operations. A student-led Sustainable Food blog provides additional outreach; see http://content.principia.edu/sites/sustainablefood/

Several Capstone research projects have focused on campus dining; e.g., quantifying student footprints (ecological footprint of various diet choices), developing the Green Dining Standard, evaluating menu items eligible for vegan alternatives, creating marketing materials, conducting waste audits, researching and making recommendations on various certification programs (e.g., Green Dining Alliance, MSC), researching and making recommendations to extend the compost effort, cost-benefit analyses for container farms, a community garden, a green roof ... the list is long.


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:

The Dining Services is open to Student Suggestions and has a regular offering of culturally diverse foods. Desserts and main meals often come from different national traditions (we have a large international student body) and recipes can be requested via the Dining Services website.


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:

Dining Services has documented 100% composting of pre- and post-consumer food waste from its operations, and is recognized as a Gold Partner by the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC): http://illinoiscomposts.org/we-compost/institutions


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?:
No

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

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:

We have an Agreement with a local food kitchen/hot meal line (the Saturday Cafe at the First Presbyterian Church in Alton, IL) to provide fresh, surplus food on a weekly basis (as available). However, due to COVID, the donation program is not operational at present. In a related development, a new student-led initiative provides an outlet for students to donate portable food items (cereal, pasta, protein bars, snacks) to the Cafe. This was successfully piloted in 2019, but suspended due to COVID concerns; it will reopen as soon as it's safe to share food again.


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:

Cooking oil is collected by a local partner at no cost to the college; it's used locally in animal feed.


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:

Dining Services has documented 100% composting of pre- and post-consumer food waste from its operations, and is recognized as a Gold Partner by the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC): http://illinoiscomposts.org/we-compost/institutions

Composting is available in 100% of student dorms, and the Center for Sustainability pays a student in each dorm to oversee the program.


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:

Composting is available at all dining locations, as well as 100% of academic buildings and student residences. Total Organics (a subsidiary of St Louis Composting) is contracted to collect the material weekly.


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:

100% of dine-in meals are served with reusable ceramic dinner plates/bowls, reusable hard plastic cups, and aluminum eating utensils. In addition, (outside of COVID) students can bring their own mugs for refill.


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:

Yes, students have the option to make a $10 deposit to rent a "cambro" or reusable to-go container. During COVID, all meals have been to-go in fully compostable clamshells with compostable cups/lids/straws, cutlery, and napkins. Regardless of COVID, the Piasa Pub has always offered 100% compostable "pubware", including cutlery, beverage cups/lids/straws, plates/bowls/boats, etc.


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:

Prior to COVID, the Piasa Pub offered a 0.35 cent discount on every drink filled from a student's reusable mug. A $10 deposit on durable cambros is refunded when the cambro is returned. Students who choose the reusable to-go cambro are essentially getting it for free, allowing them to better manage their food budget.


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)?:
No

A brief description of other dining services materials management initiatives:
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The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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