Dining and Food

Dining provides an important role in promoting sustainability at Wesleyan. We have programs aimed at reducing food waste, increasing composting, and purchasing locally and sustainably produced food. Bon Appétit Management Company, Wesleyan's dining service, has a number of policies and practices designed to promote food system sustainability.  Wesleyan students run the Local Food Co-op, through which the Wesleyan community can purchase locally grown or made foods.  Wesleyan's Wishing Well water stations are used at outdoor events to eliminate the need for bottled water. 

Check out our guides on how to eat more sustainably and how to conserve water.

What We've Done

  • Food Sourcing
    1. In 2012, President Roth signed the Real Food Campus Commitment. This commitment pledged Wesleyan to purchase 20% real food, defined as "local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and/or humane" by 2020. Wesleyan currently exceeds that goal.
    2. Bon Appétit Management Company, Wesleyan's dining service, has a company-wide Farm to Fork program that requires cafés across the country to purchase at least 20 percent of their ingredients from small, local, owner-operated vendors and farmers within a 150-mile radius of campus. During the 2021-22 academic year Bon Appétit classified about 30% of its purchases as meeting Farm to Fork criteria.
    3. Bon Appétit purchases the following sustainable foods:
      1. All coffee is organic, fair trade, and kosher
      2. All seafood meets Monterey Bay Seafood Watch's "Best Choices" standards
      3. All dairy products, mushrooms, tofu, seitan, turkey, pork, beef, and eggs are purchased from local suppliers that follow principles of organic agriculture.
    4. Student-run Long Lane Organic Farm uses ecological farming practices to produce food for the Wesleyan University Campus as well as the broader Middletown community. 
    5. Each fall, Bon Appétit sponsors an Eat Local Challenge Day for the campus.  Dining Services and several local vendors provide a buffet-style meal made entirely from local ingredients harvested within 150 miles of the University.
  • Dining Options
    1. Veg Out Tuesdays are held regularly at Usdan Marketplace to introduce students to plant-based options.
    2. Wesleyan promotes vegan options at every meal, offers meatless main entrees, and labels its vegan and vegetarian options.  The vegan program serves entirely organic produce, dry herbs, and rice.  
    3. The Kosher section has vegetarian-only options at least one day per week and uses compostable dinnerware.
    4. The student-run Local Food Co-op sources a large variety of fresh local foods (including Long Lane Farm produce) and sells shares to over 300 Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff.  The Co-op distributes produce, mushrooms, cheese, tofu, seitan, bread, and coffee, all locally made (or roasted, in the case of coffee).   
    5. Espwesso is a student-run cafe with sustainability embedded in its mission: inspiring a shift in coffee consumption towards more sustainable and tastier coffees. Espwesso serves direct-source coffees and teas, which allows coffee roasters to work with growers to ensure that best practices are used in terms of both sustainability and taste. All Espwesso labor is work-study. Espwesso is entirely financially sustainable, operating exclusively on student "donations" to cover costs. Any surplus revenue is invested in expanded offerings or lowering costs.  In 2018, Espwesso received a Green Fund grant to purchase reusable ceramic mugs for the cafe.  
  • Reducing Food Waste
    1. The Composting Interns conduct annual waste audits in Usdan and Summerfields dining halls to increase understanding of waste, with the goal of waste reduction.Compost Interns run periodic "Clean Plate Challenges" to reduce food waste.  
    2. Since 2014 at the Reunion and Commencement All-College Picnic, Bon Appétit has served a (nearly) zero-waste buffet-style lunch.  With the exception of potato chip bags, everything is composted or recycled, significantly reducing waste from the previous boxed lunches.
    3. Bon Appétit’s Eco to Go program, in partnership with ReUser, is available at Usdan and Summerfields dining halls, with free access to this reusable container program for all incoming students and for employees for $7.50.  
    4. Bon Appétit operates a reusable mug program, which gives students and employees a 20 cent discount on a cup of coffee at Pi Café and Usdan Café.  
    5. No trays are used in any dining halls.
    6. A one-page explanatory document for Bon Appétit catering orders was created in order to educate customers on portion sizes and effective ordering strategies.
  • Diverting Food Waste
    1. Student volunteers in the Food Rescue Program collect food that is normally wasted from Pi Cafe, Summerfields and Usdan and take it to Eddy Shelter, an emergency shelter about 5 minutes from campus. Students also organize, prepare and participate in community dinners at the shelter.
    2. Since 2010, student interns have managed a residential composting program for apartment, program house, and woodframe residents. This program was expanded to dorms with Eco Facilitators in 2014. Several offices also compost through a voluntary program. 
    3. All pre- and post-consumer composting is collected from Usdan and Summerfields dining halls, as well as Pi Cafe.  Pre-consumer composting is collected at Red & Black Cafe and WesWings restaurant.  In 2021-22, Wesleyan diverted 111 tons of food waste from the incinerator via on and off-campus composting.
    4. New compost, trash, and recycling stations have been installed in Usdan, Exley, Olin, and in high-traffic outdoor locations to better collect compostable items.  These stations are currently on hiatus until fully compostable products can be sourced.
    5. The Resource Center, with support from the Green Fund, purchased compostable dishware and mobile composting stations for events hosted by student groups.  A composting bin for compostable dishware is available behind the Resource Center. 
  • Wishing Well Water Stations

    The Sustainability Office, Center for the Arts, Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and the College of the Environment co-sponsored a student competition to design a mobile water station in the 2012-13 academic year, which is now used at Reunion & Commencement, Homecoming/Family Weekend, and other outdoor events. The Wishing Well reduces bottled water consumption by thousands of bottles annually.

    Borrowing the Wishing Wells

    On-campus departments and student groups may borrow the two (2) Wishing Wells, which come with coiled hoses rated for drinking water (hoses can run up to 300 feet for 1 station or 150 feet each for 2 stations).  Both are under management of Bon Appétit and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Please book the Wishing Wells via Reservations and Conferences (employees) or OSI (students).  Contact Michael Strumpf for more information.

    Community groups wishing to borrow the Wishing Wells should contact Jen Kleindienst to verify availability.  There is no cost to borrow the Wishing Wells, but proof of insurance, a signed loan agreement, and self transportation is required.  The Wishing Wells must be transported via a pickup truck or box truck and the borrower assumes all liability for damages during transportation or use.

    Contest history

    For the competition, student teams created designs for Wesleyan’s own water station.  Contest participants could work individually or in teams to develop designs for the water stations, following guidelines to ensure that the finished product would meet Wesleyan’s needs.  Students had the opportunity to consult with faculty, staff, and alumni to receive guidance as they created their designs.  Teams worked closely with the Wesleyan Machine Shop to ensure that their designs were buildable.  A judging panel chose the winning team's design, The Wishing Well, which was built by the Machine Shop.  Team members Madeleine O’Brien '16, Nina Gerona '15, Brent Packer '15, and Tavo True-Alcalá '15 collaborated with the Machine Shop and the Center for the Arts on their design and developing signage.  The team members were honored with a $1,000 prize at an award ceremony in May 2013.


Michael Strumpf, Resident District Manager, Bon Appétit