Five Ways SBU Eats Eco-Conscious Endeavors Build a Sustainable Future 

SBU Eats has become a leader in sustainable initiatives with new programs and outreach efforts to build a greener campus at Stony Brook University. By limiting food waste, reducing plastic and supporting local and sustainable products, we can educate our community and inspire meaningful action towards living more sustainably.

“SBU Eats is committed to building a sustainable future for everyone on campus. By collaborating with student groups, we are working together to educate about the choices we make today, shaping the world of tomorrow,” stated Diana Walker Kubik, executive director, Faculty Student Association.

Weigh the Waste Initiative Encourages Mindful Portions

SBU Eats is collaborating with the Environmental Club to continue the Weigh the Waste program, which encourages students to put on their plate only what they can eat to reduce the environmental impact of food waste. Upon relaunching the Weigh the Waste program at dine-in, based on the sampling, our results showed that approximately 80,000 pounds of food go to the landfill each semester. 

“I feel that this is an important initiative because scraping food off of each plate at the end of a meal and weighing and measuring the waste has a huge impact when students can visually see how much food is going into the trash,” stated Peter Joyce ‘24, history and political science major, Sustainable Solutions Committee Chair of the Environmental Club.

Community Garden Food Education Programs

SBU Eats and the Community Garden Club are collaborating on sustainable initiatives this spring through outreach efforts. The Community Garden Club brings students together to volunteer their time through hands-on gardening activities that beautify the campus and empower students with opportunities to cultivate a culture of sustainability. The club has grown exponentially with more than 70 active students applying the principles of leadership, sustainability and wellness to all of their outreach efforts. Recently, the Community Garden Club took a tour of the on-campus hydroponic Freight Farm and watched how the composter behind Roth Cafe diverts pre-consumer waste from the landfill. Students learned about the Waste Not program, a tool that the SBU Eats team uses to track, measure and reduce food waste in the kitchens. The SBU Eats culinary team separates biodegradable waste from other kitchen waste, which is then transported from the campus kitchens to the composter where it is mixed with coffee grinds and the bulking agent, then sent through the aerobic composting vessel. When the compost is ready, it is used in the landscaping and flower beds throughout campus.

Sara Poon ‘25, biology major, and Andrew Fu ‘25, health sciences major, prepared an educational presentation before the tour to introduce composting and hydroponics to everyone that attended. Fu explained that Freight Farm is a great learning opportunity for students to enhance their knowledge of sustainable agriculture and obtain hands-on experience outside of the classroom. 

“At the Community Garden Club we are closing the loop of sustainability with SBU Eats by using compost as nutrients for our plants, returning organic waste back to the composter, and donating any food we can to the on campus food pantry. Instead of taking more from the environment, we are giving back in this way,” stated Poon. Poon is launching a pilot program to collect organic waste from the Chavez and Tubman residence halls to compost these food scraps in the on campus composter.

Eco-Friendly Containers  

During the fall semester, students on a meal plan received a free SBU Eats Goes Green container for take-out at dine-in locations, and more than 5,000 students have been using the program. Roth Cafe and the SAC Food Court are now using new durable eco-friendly containers. These Ecopax to-go containers are made through green manufacturing with 40 percent natural materials, reducing the amount of plastic materials needed. 

Eco-Conscious Focus Groups

SBU Eats is launching focus groups that will bring students interested in sustainability together to discuss the best ways to communicate with students to educate them regarding reducing food waste and other eco-conscious endeavors.“We want to build sustainable partnerships with students who have a passion for fostering community involvement and building a greener future together,” stated Dawn Villacci, director of Student Engagement Dining Services. 

Supporting Local and Sustainable Products

There are many reasons to support local businesses, including strengthening the economy, fostering local entrepreneurship, encouraging sustainability, inspiring innovation and enhancing cultural diversity of the product mix sold on campus. SBU Eats is proud to feature local products at the Market at West Side and the Emporium at East Side. Each month, the campus markets will feature products that celebrate community and promote diverse, local and socially responsible brands. 

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