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Vanderbilt Accepted into Menus of Change University Research Collaborative

Posted by on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 in Dining, News, Sustainability Competition.

Vanderbilt was recently awarded membership in the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC). Co-founded and jointly led by Stanford University and The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative is a working group of leading scholars, foodservice business leaders, and executive chefs from invited colleges and universities who are accelerating efforts to move Americans toward healthier, more sustainable, plant-forward diets. The project aims to promote sustainable food choices at universities to make students more aware of the impacts of their food choices later on in life. At the core of Menus of Change are the 24 Menus of Change Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus. This initiative leverages the unique position of universities to advance these types of life-long food choices among students—who will soon be adult decision-makers—by connecting a diversity of insights from academic programs, dining services, and athletics.

Vanderbilt Campus Dining has already received a number of recognitions for its commitment to providing the highest quality, best-tasting, most nutritious, diverse and sustainable menus possible. It is the winner of many prestigious awards in the food service industry. Vanderbilt Campus Dining prioritizes sustainable facilities including energy efficiency and reducing food waste. Three of Vanderbilt’s dining facilities have LEED certifications and use EnergyStar appliances. Vanderbilt’s main dining facility, Rand Dining, uses an ORCA digester to transform all back-of-house food waste into water and the Commons Center Dining Center uses a pulper to remove excess water from food waste, reducing the weight of materials that have to go to the landfill. Hydration stations are found throughout campus to reduce the use of bottled water. To redirect food waste generated by diners away from the landfill, Vanderbilt introduced a pilot food waste collection program in Commons Center in fall 2017. The food waste from the pilot project will be composted at an off-site facility.

Vanderbilt Campus Dining also gives diners responsible choices in their dining centers. Vanderbilt’s Eat the World, Save the Earth program offers students access to easy reference guides and identification icons for specific food choices (organic, vegetarian, vegan, etc.), local food sourcing, seasonal and local menus, online nutrition calculator, on-staff registered dietician, and healthy menu options for diners of all dietary needs.

Partners from Vanderbilt Campus Dining, Rooted Community Health, and the Sustainability and Environmental Management Office (SEMO) worked collaboratively to achieve acceptance to MCURC. Vanderbilt representatives to the MCURC include:

  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Business Services Laura Nairon,
  • Executive Director of Campus Dining David Ter Kuile,
  • Assistant Director of Dining Services and Executive Chef Bill Claypool,
  • Professor and Director of Center for Biomedical Ethics Dr. Keith Meador who leads the Rooted Community Health initiative,
  • Licensed Nutritionist Dianne Davis, and
  • Student Employment & Sustainability Coordinator for Campus Dining Suzanne Herron.

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