|Submission Date||March 5, 2021|
Sterling College (VT)
OP-8: Sustainable Dining
|2.00 / 2.00|
Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a published sustainable dining policy?:
A brief description of the sustainable dining policy:
Our Kitchen Vision plan is:
We strive to function effectively and safely within Sterling’s food system, constantly innovating and evolving, creatively utilizing ingredients available to us on campus and in the local community as much as possible, and educating others wishing to adopt or expand on an enclosed food system.
The Sterling Kitchen has strong values around sustainability that it has incorporated into its operations. It seeks to continue evolving it’s systems to increase sustainability and strengthen Sterling’s food system.
The Sterling Kitchen is growing quickly and as such needs to enhance its operations and its facilities to make it as safe and efficient as possible while increasing the integrity of the food it produces and offers to its community and to surrounding communities.
Goal: To prepare our food with care and intention.
Continue striving to make all food from scratch.
Maintain a consistent style of comfort food + world cuisine.
Constantly research and develop new recipes.
Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor source food from a campus garden or farm?:
A brief description of the program to source food from a campus garden or farm:
Since the college’s inception, Sterling Farm has been a prominent feature of a Sterling education. Our diversified and ecologically focused farm is a part of life here at Sterling—through academic study, the work program, and day-to-day community interactions.
Around 30% of the food eaten on campus is produced right here, and almost a quarter of the student body work on the farm, gaining hands-on experience managing crops, livestock, woodlands, and diverse power systems. While we do grow 30% of our own food on campus, we also purchase food from outside sources, and we purchase another 54% locally which means 84% of Sterling's food is "real food" — food that is deemed local, sustainable, Fair Trade, and humane.
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?:
A brief description of the farmers market, CSA or urban agriculture project:
The Sterling Farm has a student-led CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) during the summer and fall months when the farm is producing her greatest bounty. Weekly shares include 5-7 produce items, plus herbs, pick-your-own flowers, or a pre-picked bouquet. Shareholders can add eggs, and sometimes farm-raised chicken, pork, or lamb, to their share for an extra fee.
Starting in 2020, the CSA became available to pay for with EBT, government issued electronic benefits transfer. This lets the Sterling College food hub support growers while also doing its part in reducing food insecurity.
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?:
A brief description of the vegan dining program:
The Sterling College kitchen accommodates a wide variety of diets including vegetarian, vegan and dairy free at every meal. Those meals are complete-protein options and are either clearly labeled at the buffet-style serving, or available separately in the kitchen. Additionally, on average, 4 out of 20 meals per week served to the entire community are vegetarian / vegan, so there would be no need for a separate, special meal. Students are given the opportunity to submit their dietary preferences so that the chef and crew can make sure to account for everyone’s needs.
Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host low impact dining events (e.g. Meatless Mondays)?:
A brief description of the low impact dining events:
We host both meatless Mondays, as well as "local harvest" meals, to make sure we have a consistent amount of low-impact meals on campus.
Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host sustainability-themed meals (e.g. local harvest dinners)?:
A brief description of the sustainability-themed meals:
Yes, we host local harvest dinners, as well as a Slow Food potluck, every semester.
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?:
A brief description of the sustainability-themed food outlet:
We have a 24/7 snack table in the Dunbar Dining Hall, which is our only dining hall on campus. The food on the snack table is created in-house from ingredients from our farm or from local farms. They have included local butter and cheeses, house-made breads and cookies, as well as dips and local crackers. Because of this outlet, we were able to forgo having any vending machines on campus.
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?:
A brief description of the sustainability labeling and signage in dining halls:
We have two large bulletin boards in Dunbar Dining Hall that are devoted to sustainability information about our food and features local farms and purveyors. With every daily menu, the kitchen tells the story of every meal served and where it comes from.
Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor engage in outreach efforts to support learning and research about sustainable food systems?:
A brief description of the outreach efforts to support learning and research about sustainable food systems:
We have two large bulletin boards in Dunbar Dining Hall that are devoted to sustainability information about our food. One bulletin board is devoted to the work of our Sustainable Agriculture & Sustainable Food Systems major, including learning and research about the local food system and sustainable foods and ecological farming.
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)?:
A brief description of the other sustainability-related dining initiatives:
We have "student takeovers" of the kitchen at least twice a semester. Students have made culturally diverse meals ranging from sushi to curry to goat fricassee. All ingredients are sourced either on-campus or locally.
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?:
A brief description of the food recovery competition or commitment program or food waste prevention system:
As a Work College, we have a full time student whose job it is to track and move compost for both pre-and post consumer food. Students develop a workable compost system that maximizes re-use of waste materials and provides routine management of garden compost activities and timely emptying of kitchen compost to insure efficient and sanitary return of composted materials in soils.
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?:
A brief description of the trayless dining or modified menu/portion program:
Sterling does not use trays in our dining hall. We ask that community members take a reasonable helping first of food, finish that, and THEN go up for seconds (if needed).
Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor donate food that would otherwise go to waste to feed people?:
A brief description of the food donation program:
We participate with Salvation Farms in food gleaning whose mission is to manage agricultural surplus more efficiently across communities in Vermont. Salvation Farms was founded and is run by a Sterling alumna. We also participate in the local Meals on Wheels and "Pies for People," which turn surplus agriculture into delicious pies that go to the Hardwick Food Bank. In the past year, Sterling has donated food to the Craftsbury Food Shelf and their weekly meal program.
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)?:
A brief description of the food materials diversion program:
We divert food materials from the landfill into animal feed for our farm, primarily for pigs and chickens. In the past year, Sterling secured grant funding to improve the utilization of food waste on the campus farm.
Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a pre-consumer composting program?:
A brief description of the pre-consumer composting program:
Our composting covers both pre- and post-consumer food waste and students run the management of food waste on campus.
Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a post-consumer composting program?:
A brief description of the post-consumer composting program:
Our composting covers both pre- and post-consumer food waste.
Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor utilize reusable service ware for “dine in” meals?:
A brief description of the reusable service ware program:
We use no trays. We use no disposable plates, silverware, mugs, or glasses. They are all reusable. With COVID-19, residential students are able to eat within their Living & Learning Pods (LLPs). Each LLP is set up with reusable cutlery, plates, glassware, and space provided for serving and table and chairs for dining.
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)?:
A brief description of the compostable containers and service ware:
Sterling maintains a large collection of mugs for community members to use for coffee and tea; if people are bringing food out of the dining hall, they may use compostable containers.
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?:
A brief description of the reusable container discount or incentives program:
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)?:
A brief description of other dining services materials management initiatives:
We purchase food directly from local farmers who deliver in bulk in reusable containers. We also track waste in the kitchen. Since our last report, Sterling has signed the Break Free From Plastics pledge and is perceived by the program to be a leader in this regard.
The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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.