Sustainable Dining Services

Current Dining Services Initiatives and SLU Success Stories:

Lettuce Turnip the Beet, the Environmental Action Organization (EAO) and others have worked with Dining Services on a variety of initiatives in support of sustainable food systems. Below is a list, provided by Cindy Atkins, Director Dining and Conference Services:
Digging Potatoes

  • We are trayless which has substantially decreased the consumer waste and as a result decreased the amount of food produced. It has also decreased the amount of water and electricity used by the dish washing process.  details....
  • We now have an organic herb garden planted outside of Dana. There are "boxes" in a row that we used and will use again this summer. It was very successful with the staff and received heavy use.
  • We purchase many local items. Year round we purchase items from the North Country Co-op such as maple syrup, honey, bison burgers, and other items that are available. We meet with them when the farmers are planning their crops and then in the fall purchase the available items.
  • Our milk and eggs are purchased from local businesses.
  • Our coffee is purchased from a company in Conn. It is organic and fair trade. The local coffee businesses cannot supply the volume we require or the equipment we need.
  • We purchase items from the Potsdam Coop, Purple Rice and the Potsdam Bagelry to sell in the Northstar Cafe
  • We have also asked our Prime Vender, Sysco, to purchase local - NY state items and they have assured us that they do. We purchase already chopped vegs and lettuces, to decrease the amounts of waste, water and labor involved with cleaning and processing the vegetables.
  • A few years ago we purchased golf carts for transportation during the warm months. We also use a Gator for small deliveries instead of the larger vehicles.
  • For several years we have given each first year student a mug or now Nalgene bottle for them to use instead of paper. We are not sure how successful this is. We also provide a discount to students who bring their own mug to use in the cafe.
  • Exhaust fans are on timers.
  • Lights get turned off when rooms are not in use as much as possible. We even turn the lights down in Dana between meals.

The Farm-to-School Support Project enables colleges and public schools in St. Lawrence County, New York, to serve locally grown food in their cafeterias.

Farm to School

In 2003, the Farm-to-School Support Project developed a pilot program that helped Potsdam College purchase food grown by twelve local farmers. The Project organized these farmers, coordinated the delivery of their produce, and distributed payments from the college to the farmers. Potsdam College served the locally grown fruits and vegetables in campus cafeterias.

The Farm-to-School Support Project has since recruited more farmers and expanded its services to include St. Lawrence University.

Why a Farm-to-School Project?

At first glance, America’s national food system seems to provide a vast array of inexpensive food choices. But a closer look reveals some troubling weaknesses. For example:

  • Most of our food travels a great distance from farm to table - making us vulnerable to transport interruptions and rising fuel costs.
  • The food delivered to us is usually either highly processed or days old - costing us good taste and nutrition.
  • Our food system is increasingly controlled by corporate interests - making us dependent on the whims of businesses with no local ties or commitments.
  • Farming itself is becoming more centralized - decreasing the proportion of the food dollar that actually goes to the farmer.