Sustainability @ PLU Dining & Culinary Services
PLU recognizes the importance of sustainability, so much so that it is integrated into the University mission statement, “to educate students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care – for other persons, for their communities and for the earth.” It is the responsibility of not only the students, but the faculty and staff as well, to become conscious of their effects on the environment and to help us make strides in becoming a sustainable campus community. Here in Dining & Culinary Services, we are doing our part as PLU moves towards the goal of becoming a carbon neutral university by 2020.
We are focusing resources towards cutting down to zero-waste through the Green Tray Program, helping students organize their waste as trash, compost or recycling. The program is helping the University Center and all of the PLU campus become a home for green dining. In addition to the Green Tray Program, Dining & Culinary Services is also focusing efforts towards organic purchasing decisions for products such as eggs milk as well as specific meats such as chicken and beef.
We are continually finding new ways to improve our sustainability efforts. The main area we focus on are:
Minimizing our Environmental Impact
- Composting & reducing the amount of waste we send to the landfill. Through prudence, determination and research, we have reduced the waste sent to the landfill by an astounding 68.62%.
We compost all food waste, paper cups, straws, napkins, sugar packets, basket liners, paper cartons, wood stir sticks, tea bags and wrappers.
- Recycling plastic packaging & wrappers, tin/aluminum cans and foil, mixed paper, and corrugated cardboard.
- Choosing disposable containers that are made with post-consumer waste and that are compostable/recyclable: to-go packaging in The Commons, Aardvark paper drinking straws, chopsticks sourced from renewable bamboo, salt & pepper shakers are all recyclable.
- Bottled water is not sold in any of our campus restaurants as a result of the student-run initiative in 2011.
- We don’t just throw away the used fryer oil, in the effort to reduce our carbon footprint we sell it to SeQuential Pacific Biodiesel. They create renewable biodiesel fuel, a clean fuel source derived from vegetable oil, animal fats, waste vegetable oil, and microalgae oil.
- Currently we donate some leftover foods to: Parkland Food Bank, Tacoma Rescue Mission, Tacoma Food Bank, and Trinity Lutheran Church.
Local, Natural and Organic
We are committed to purchasing and operational practices and menu choices that sustain the health and well-being of the environment, communities, and the people producing and eating food. Our sustainability and production managers work closely with vendors to source local, all-natural and organic products.
- Our of our shell and liquid eggs are sourced from Steibrs Farms in Yelm, WA, their eggs typically make it from hen house to us in as little as 3 days! Steibrs Farms eggs are produced by 100% cage free hens who are fed 100 % vegetarian diet free of any animal by-products and free from hormones and antibiotics.
- Chicken breast, used in all chicken salads at Good Things, served on the salad bar and pizzas at Aglio is sourced from Draper Valley Farms, Mt. Vernon, WA. They provide free-range chicken that was locally raised and that has been humanely raised while being fed a 100% vegetarian diet.
- Ground beef and whole chicken sourced from Crown S Ranch in Washington’s Methow Valley. They raise their animals humanely without the use of toxic drugs or chemicals, all the beef is pasture raised and poultry is raised on certified organic pastures.
- All of the milk used in The Commons is rBGH free. The milk is also produced locally, from either Smith Brothers Farms in the Kent Valley or Darigold which has always been a proud NW dairy producer.
- We purchase our seafood in accordance with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guidelines for sustainability.
- Along with trans-fat free oil in the fryers, heart-healthy olive and canola oils are used in everyday cooking. We also utilize specialty oils like sesame oil for many of our cultural dishes.
- We use Shepherd’s Grain flour, which is milled in Spokane from sustainably-grown wheat on farms in the northeastern plateau of our state.
- items from Pink’s Bakery in Seattle (muffins, scones, cookies and croissants) are produced using Shepherd’s Grain flour.
- Paninis made for OMM are on bread from Grand Central Bakery in Seattle.
- The bread at Good Things is from Franz Bakery in Seattle.
- The bagels at OMM are from Seattle Bagel Bakery.
- Organic breads and rolls for sandwiches are provided by the Essential Baking Company, located in Seattle.
- Bolillo bread is from Tienda La Surtidora on Pacific Ave right here in Tacoma.
- Meat Free Monday is a student-driven idea and is fully supported by Dining & Culinary Services. We provide meat free choices in The Commons on Monday so everyone has the chance to take and uphold the pledge.
- Produce is supplied by Charlie’s Produce, a local employee-owned company. Charlie’s has been buying local produce for 25 years. They have 15 conventional growers in the Puyallup/Kent/Mt. Vernon area they draw upon for local produce. They also work with 24 growers in Eastern Washington, plus numerous packing sheds.
- We source other produce from Tahoma Farms, a certified organic “first generation” family farm in Orting, WA.
- Seattle’s Best Coffee provides campus with organic shade-grown Fair Trade Certified coffee.
- Kettle chips, a local company located in Salem, OR. They produce all-natural products, using nothing artificial, non-GMO ingredients all natural colors & flavors.
- Pizza cheese is from Foremost Farms in Wisconsin and is made with vegetable rennet.
- Vegan sandwiches in Old Main Market are supplied by Hillside Quicke, right here in Tacoma.