Over the past year, food services at Slippery Rock University have implemented various environmentally friendly “green” initiatives to help improve the food and campus overall.
AVI Fresh, which supplies the food at the dining halls at SRU, has implemented initiatives such as composting, recycling, waste monitoring, food waste reduction, “Trayless Tuesdays,” and sustainable products.
A complete list of initiatives can be found on their website at www.sru.edu/sustainability.html. According to the website, AVI has partnered with the Macoskey Center on a composting project, which began as a grant program in 2004. Pre-production food waste is gathered from the dining hall for the production of compost, which is used on the Macoskey gardens and sold. The compost helps replenish the soil with valuable nutrients to help future crops grow.
According to Kandace Kendall, marketing specialist for AVI, AVI Fresh is working with SRU’s Energy Action Campaign “Small Steps, Big Payoff” to reduce their carbon footprint.
“We want to educate our students and employees on the important steps we are taking and the small steps they can take to reduce waste,” Kendall said. “We are making SRU and the earth a greener place to live. Every step counts. I feel this can only benefit our future.”
According to Kendall, AVI works with a lot of local farms to bring in fresh produce and meat to students daily.
“We make many of our foods from scratch, for example, fresh ground hamburgers, made-in-house pizza dough and sauce, fresh chicken tenders, house made ranch dressing, hummus, homemade doughnuts, and etcetera,” she said.
The main initiative that AVI is currently working on is their “High Tunnels” project. The company is working with Lengel Brothers Farm located in Mercer to build “High Tunnels,” which are greenhouses that extend the growing season by three to four months.
“Next semester, we will be able to have fresh, local vegetables throughout October, November and December,” she said. “Our future plan is to implement a herb garden adjacent to Boozel.”
“We are doing a lot of things at SRU to help improve the environment and to make the food as healthy as possible with the freshest ingredients,” Kendall said.
During the month of April, AVI has made an effort to celebrate Earth Day by offering sustainable snacks. The cafés have been featuring a variety of pretzels that feature packaging made from a minimum of 50 percent post-consumer recycled content as part of ongoing efforts to buy green products when possible. More information can be found at www.AVIloveoftheearth.com, which is AVI’s corporate website on their commitment to going green.