Washington University in St. Louis’ goal is to foster a food system that advances environmental and public health while supporting a strong local economy.
We have made significant strides in the last few years working in close partnership with food service vendors Bon Appetit, Aramark, and Catering St. Louis, as well as with student groups.
WashU Dining Services was awarded the 2014 NACUFS (National Association of College and University Food Services) Sustainability Gold Award for Excellence in Waste Management as a result of our many efforts to reduce waste, including donating unused food, banning the sale of plastic water bottles, elimination of plastic bags at two convenience store locations on campus, composting initiatives, and converting fryer oil to biodiesel. WashU Dining Services also offers reusable to-go boxes as a waste-free alternative to conventional disposable cardboard boxes and discounts for those who bring reusable mugs when purchasing coffee and soda. Learn more about how the university sustainably manages waste.
In 2014, 17 percent of the food served at WashU was grown, processed or prepared within 200 miles of St. Louis. This supports local farms and businesses while cutting down on the university’s carbon ‘foodprint.’
Ethics are at the heart of sustainable food production. Nearly all coffee served at the university meets or exceeds Fair Trade standards. Turkey and chicken are produced without routine use of antibiotics; hamburgers are made with grass-fed beef from cows raised without antibiotics or hormones; precracked (liquid) eggs are produced from hens living in cage-free farms.
Students play an important role advancing sustainable agriculture and food justice both on- and off-campus. In 2007, they established the Burning Kumquat organic farm on the Danforth Campus. As shown above, Burning Kumquat leaders have organized activities and skill shares on topics ranging from tea-making to potting plants. The student group Cultivating Connections organizes volunteers for the International Institute’s Global Farms program, fostering relationships between students, immigrants, and refugees from the greater St. Louis area. The Student Sustainability Board is an offshoot of Student Union that provides funding and guidance to student groups on making their events and programming more sustainable, particularly with regards to purchasing and food waste. The newly launched student magazine Simple Syrup investigates the relationship between food and culture. Students have also been integral in launching a range of education and outreach campaigns, including Green Monday, Food Week, the PB & Joy food drive, and various lectures and film screenings.