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A Serving of Sustainability

A Serving of Sustainability

By Kaitlyn Garner ’16

With every meal served, Otterbein’s dining service, Bon Appétit, provides fresh, delicious food for students while helping the community and environment around them.

Bon Appétit is a nationwide company specializing in full service catering and dining, producing food that is healthy for people, healthy for the community and healthy for the environment. The company recently won the Acterra Business Environmental Award for Sustainability.

Those same values are applied at Otterbein. “We are so proud to be part of a national company that leads the way in their sustainability efforts and we make every effort here at Otterbein to meet these standards,” said Catering Manager Colleen Maul.

Bon Appétit provides all dining services on campus, from the OtterBean coffee shop in the library to the Roost Express, a quick service eatery conveniently located near classes. The Cardinal’s Nest full cafeteria and The Den grill and market are both located in the Campus Center. With these options students are able to eat sustainably whether they are on the go or sitting down with friends.

“Sustainability in the context of food means producing food that is healthy for people, healthy for the community and healthy for the environment. It means looking at the long-term as well as the short-term,” said Maul.

At Otterbein, Bon Appétit is committed to high standards in food sourcing. “Our pork product gestation-crate standards are the highest in the food service industry. The animals are free to move and socialize,” Maul said. “All of our pork products come from hogs who have never been given antibiotics or animal by-products. Our ground beef is certified humane, raised on vegetarian feed with no antibiotics or added hormones. Turkey and chicken are also raised without routine antibiotics. The shell and liquid eggs that we serve are certified cage-free. All milk and yogurt come from cows not treated with rBGH.

Bon Appétit’s seafood purchasing adheres to the guidelines set forth by Seafood Watch, a program of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, which teach consumers about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources.

“We also support the use of fair trade products,” Maul said. “The coffee that we serve in the Cardinal’s Nest, at the Roost Express and at catered events is fair trade Crimson Cup coffee. Crimson Cup is responsibility sourced, locally owned and operated right here in Columbus, Ohio and we have been serving their coffee at Otterbein for many years.”

For Bon Appétit, eating local is not just a trend. The Farm for Fork program supports local farms and farmers with a goal of having 20 percent of food ordered to come from owner-operated farms within 150 miles of campus.

“Amongst the many benefits, using local sources reduces the amount of carbon admissions produced during transportation and thus reduces our carbon footprint,” Maul said.

Bon Appétit offers vegetarian and vegan options at every meal and every location.

This not just to accommodate the needs of our customers with vegetarian and vegan diets, but also to encourage everyone to have diets rich in plant-based proteins. Promoting plant-based proteins contributes less to global greenhouse gas emissions.

Bon Appétit at Otterbein recently started participating in the “Imperfectly Delicious Produce,” initiative in an effort to reduce waste by cooking with what some people call “ugly produce.”

“Imperfectly Delicious Produce is the process of utilizing the non ‘retail’ Grade A fruits and vegetables that are more times than not thrown away or left un-harvested in the fields to waste away when, in reality, they would be perfectly fine to cook with,” Maul explained. “This is not produce that is going bad or severely damaged, it is quality product that is going to waste because of stringent cosmetic standards that have nothing to do with flavor or food safety.”

And it’s not just sustainability, but socially responsibility that drives their efforts. “At Bon Appétit, we believe that farmworkers should not only be honored for their contribution to our food system, but enjoy the same rights and protections as employees in other occupations,” said Maul.

After the meals are served, Bon Appétit continues to make a difference. “One of the simplest forms of sustainability that you can commit to is recycling. We recycle any boxes, cans, etc., that come through our kitchen. All of our disposable wares used for catered events are also recyclable. In the Den, we encourage the students to eat their meals in, but if they need to take their meal to-go, their food is served in biodegradable Earthfare to-go containers,” Maul said.

Want to know where your food on campus is coming from? Here is a partial list:

  • Basil, jalapenos, peppers and heirloom tomatoes - Rain Fresh Harvest, Plain City, Ohio.
  • Sausage patties and links and 500 pounds of ground beef each week for the Nest and the Den - New Creations Farm, Chardon, Ohio.
  • Nine three-gallon buckets of yogurt each week - Big Prairie, Ohio’s Velvet View Farmstead.
  • 20 turkey roasts each week - Bowman and Landes Turkey Inc., New Carlisle, Ohio. Crushed and diced canned tomatoes and ketchup - Hierzel Tomato, Toledo, Ohio. We Barley, oats, amaranth, rye berries and honey - sourced from the Ag Access co-op.