Food Waste and Sustainability in Exeter’s Dining Halls

March 29, 2017

Exeter always tries to implement new ways of reducing our food footprint into our dining halls to benefit the environment. Through the student-led “Zero Waste initiative”, Exeter dining halls have seen significant decreases in the amount of food and packaging going to waste. The dining halls have also begun to compost leftover food rather than throwing it into the trash.

Another way that Exeter has tried to become more sustainable is by sourcing the food and ingredients within 250 miles of campus. About 25% of food served in the dining halls is sourced locally, and some of the herbs are even grown right on campus. Not only are some vegetables and fruits locally sourced, but ingredients such as eggs, cream, and butter are from places around the Exeter area. Exeter also serves fish that are provided by The Gulf of Maine Research Institute, which uses responsible techniques to harvest the fish, and from Red’s Best, which is sourced right out of Boston.

Currently, our dining halls are working on even more steps that they can take to reduce their food footprint. When cleaning, they use Green Seal certified products (or others certified by the Design for the Environment by the Environmental Protection Agency) to be environmentally cautious not only with their food waste. Instead of throwing out cardboard, metal cans, glass bottles, and plastics, they go to the recycling. Plus, all the containers purchased are biodegradable, and all napkins are made of recycled fiber. Since the school has started to push for trayless dining hall eating, food waste has decreased by 25-30%, and all food waste is now composted and further used to enrich out garden soil. By incorporating sustainable ideas into our dining halls, Exeter has successfully sought to reduce our food waste footprint.