Dining Services seeks sustainable alternatives

Over the past few years Dining Services has made numerous changes in order to make itself more sustainable.

In 2008, Dining Services removed all the trays from Winslow Dining Hall, resulting in less food waste and reduced usage of water, energy and chemicals.

Dining Services also started composting in 2008. The composting process takes place at Pullen Farm. Composting takes scraps of food, such as fruit, vegetable trimmings and coffee filters, and layers them with carbon- and nitrogen-base materials, such as lawn clippings or leaves.

A sustainable garden is another project Dining Service has been working on to help makes it more green. The garden is located at Pullen Farm. The sustainable garden grows fresh vegetables used by Dining Services.

“We grow all the produce and we return it back,” LeBlanc said. “That really elevates a lot of the bill they have to rely on being shipped here, it cuts down on (carbon monoxide) emissions.”

Another project Dining Services uses is the biodegradable packing, which started roughly five years by a team of managers, said Terri Benton, associate director of Dining Services.

“All of our takeout products are biodegradable except for our cups which are compostable,” Benton said.

Dining Services plans to make other changes within the next year including purchasing new equipment.

“A lot of the equipment here is very old, so older equipment is going to be far less energy efficient,” said Paula Amols, director of Dining Services.

The majority of the machines used for cooking are electric, Amols said.

“Over at Winslow we are going to be replacing some of the older electric ovens with new gas ovens,” Amols said. “These are high-efficiency ovens; they heat much more quickly.”

Dining Services is also planning to get a Mongolian Grill in Winslow, Amols said, requiring a new ventilation hood.

“Ventilation hoods used to be the biggest energy users in a commercial kitchen, but there are some relevantly new things called variable speed systems,” Amols said.

When the ventilation hoods work, there are fans that pull the heat and steam away. Usually the ventilation system is on the hood and everything works at full speed, Amols said.

“With this new system that I ask them to install for this new hood, it senses the heat,” Amols said. “It will adjust itself up and down. At times when it is slower and not doing as much, it will slow down and consume less energy. Studies that have been done show these systems can save up to 50 percent of energy.”

Dining Services is also planning to get new ice machines.

“These particular ice machines are very good at servicing water,” Amols said. “This recirculates it and reuses it to make more ice, so there is very little wasted water.” The new equipment will be installed this summer.