SBU Eats strives to provide an exceptional dining experience that is environmentally responsible through programs such as the community garden, operating a hydroponic freight farm, purchasing seasonal produce and local seafood, composting kitchen food waste and the newest initiative — the SBU Eats Goes Green Reusable Container program. These initiatives have a long-term impact to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all Seawolves.
“Our mission is to help Stony Brook University lead the change to reduce our environmental footprint every day and to create programs for students to grow healthy ingredients, facilitate educational and research opportunities, and provide a mentoring program that connects our staff with students to give them a fun interactive experience outside of the classroom,” explains Diana Walker Kubik, executive director, Faculty Student Association.
Some of the many sustainable initiatives launched include:
SBU Eats Goes Green Reusable Containers
SBU Eats offers a reusable take-out container program at East Side and West Side dine-in. While the program was originally piloted last year, this semester it was launched full steam ahead, giving every student on a meal plan the opportunity to receive a complimentary reusable container. This initiative helps the dining program to be more sustainable and move away from disposable containers. Together, the campus community has the potential to prevent 2.5 million take-out containers from being added to the landfill and to reduce the dependency of fossil fuels, reduce landfill waste and reduce our carbon footprint. Anyone who wants to participate in the program can purchase a reusable container for $5 using Wolfie Wallet. Learn more about the program online.
Stony Brook University was the first higher education institution in the United States to launch a Freight Farm on a college campus. The Freight Farm is an all-weather steel constructed freight container converted into an automated hydroponic farm behind Roth Café. As part of the SBU Eats dining program, delicious, nutritious, leafy greens such as Bibb lettuce and radishes are grown without sunlight, soil or pesticides year round. The Freight Farm provides students with the experience of eating the food they grow while enhancing their knowledge of sustainable agriculture, gives them a hands-on learning opportunity outside the classroom, and inspires them to be more sustainable in their lives.
The community gardens are spaces where students can volunteer their time to connect with other students while applying the principles of leadership, sustainability and wellness. Campus gardens are located at East Side Dining and the Student Activities Center and offer hands-on gardening activities that beautify the campus and empower students with opportunities to cultivate a culture of sustainability. Students that join the Community Garden Club organize fun volunteer opportunities such as “Adopt-a-Seed” and “Decorate a Pot” pop-up events. They also transplant strawberries, mulch, weed, plant and educate others through gardening activities. Part of their mission is to combat food insecurity in the community, which is why they harvest and donate some of the seasonal produce to the Stony Brook University Food Pantry. This program has helped students explore the connection between food and biodiversity. To get involved in this initiative, feel free to reach out to @sbucommunitygarden on Instagram.
The SBU Eats Waste Not program is a tool that tracks, measures and reduces food waste in our kitchens by focusing on production waste, overproduction and unused/out-of-date inventory. Our chefs and cooks are trained to prepare root-to-stem cooking, using as much of the vegetable as possible. The food degradation process in landfills forms methane, a greenhouse gas around 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This program was implemented to reduce waste by analyzing the products we purchase and how much is produced per meal period. The culinary team separates the biodegradable waste (such as fruit and vegetable peels) from other kitchen waste, and it is then transported from the campus kitchens to the composter located behind Roth Café. Volunteers then mix the food waste with coffee grinds and the bulking agent and send it through the aerobic composting vessel. When the compost is ready, it is used in the landscaping and flower beds throughout campus.
SBU Food Recovery Network
SBU Eats has partnered with the Food Recovery Network, a national nonprofit that helps fight food waste and hunger by recovering perishable food that would otherwise go to waste and donates it to those in need in the local community. Over the years, the program has expanded to include grab-and-go products from our convenience stores prior to expiring. To get involved in this initiative, feel free to reach out to @sbufrn on Instagram or email email@example.com.
SBU Eats understands the importance of serving sustainable seafood in our dining locations to ensure Seawolves can make mindful choices about the seafood they eat. On West Campus and at Stony Brook University Hospital, SBU Eats has made a commitment to purchase sustainable seafood to help ensure the future of our seafood supply, the health of our oceans and the health and well-being of our community. The dining program sources local seafood whenever possible and follows the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, which is a reliable source for information about the sustainability of various kinds of fish and shellfish.
Buying locally helps reduce transportation costs and exhaust emissions. SBU Eats sources produce from local farms to bring the freshest produce to campus whenever available and in season. The dining program offers cage-free eggs, eco/fair trade coffee, antibiotic free chicken and turkey, and rBGH free yogurt and milk. Some of the core items sourced locally include produce, dairy, fresh bakery items, juices, water, coffee, pizza dough, beef and poultry, seafood, dressings, pastas and snacks. These local (within 250 miles) and regional (within 400 miles) ingredients are always sourced as a first choice to support small and mid-sized American family farms.