A farmer converses with a patron in the Market Café on one of USF's low carbon diet days.
The University of San Francisco has earned top marks on the College
Sustainability Report Card for its food and recycling efforts.
report card is the only independent sustainability evaluation of campus
operations and endowment investments. Published by the Sustainable
Endowments Institute, a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy
Advisors, it assesses 300 public and private colleges and universities
with the largest endowments.
USF was among the top 91 schools
that received an “A” grade in the food and recycling category, which
was released before the overall grades for university sustainability
Bon Appétit, USF’s food service provider, was singled
out for purchasing products from local farmers, growers, and producers
– including dairy, cage-free eggs, and fair trade coffee.
possible, Bon Appétit purchases produce from 30-40 local farmers within
150 miles of its kitchens and buys meat from farmers who avoid
antibiotics. In addition, Bon Appétit offers a low-carbon diet, which
is based on less meat and dairy to avoid the larger associated
“At USF, we have lowered our beef
consumption by 52 percent, simply by showcasing other food items,” said
Bon Appétit Resident District Manager at USF Holly Winslow.
key to her success is running a nimble operation that’s able to change
menus in a pinch, for example when a tractor breaks down or gets stuck
in the mud and a farmer can’t deliver on time, Winslow said. While
staying true to small farmers has required the occasional concession,
it has paid off in the form of a farmer-buyer partnership that gives
Winslow a voice.
“Some farmers now call to ask what I want them to plant and how much,” Winslow said.
ridding the cafeteria of food trays – which require hefty amounts of
heated water to clean and allow diners to pile on food that often ends
up in the trash – to supporting a student movement to reduce the amount
of bottled water sold on campus by stocking refillable containers, Bon
Appétit uses its influence to prod customers toward greener choices.
use of compostable containers for (food) takeout and its comprehensive
recycling program that diverts 67 percent of the university’s waste,
were also touted as progressive programs by the Report Card.
at USF, clothes, furniture, and art supplies are donated to local
nonprofits, food waste is given to homeless shelters, and landscaping
and food waste are composted, the Report Card noted.
USF has reduced its landfill waste from 1,253 tons in 2004 to 777 tons
in 2008, said Joe Murphy, USF environmental safety manager. During that
time, the university has implemented a successful cafeteria composting
program for which it is currently piloting a residence hall expansion.