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 Appetit Management Company, Wesleyan's dining service, has a number of policies and practices designed to promote sustainability of the food system.  Wesleyan students run the Local Food Cooperative, through which the Wesleyan community can purchase locally grown or made foods.

What We've Done

  • Food Sourcing
    1. In 2012, President Michael 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.  In addition,
      1. All coffee is organic, fair trade, and kosher.
      2. All eggs are cage free and are Certified Humane.
      3. All seafood meets Monterey Bay Seafood Watch's "Best Choices" standards, all tuna is purchased from companies that do not use destructive trawl fishing methods.
      4. All milk is RBST-free and purchased from Ronnybrook Farm, a local dairy run by Wesleyan alumni that uses ecologically sound and humane practices.
      5. All bacon is purchased from farms that do not use gestation crates, most ground beef purchases are from New England farms, which use ecologically sound and humane practices.  About 20% of pork purchases are done through the farm-to-fork program, which use ecologically sound and humane practices.  All pork is gestation crate-free. All poultry is antibiotic and hormone free.
    3. 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. 
    4. Each fall, Bon Appetit 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 each week to introduce students to plant-based options.
    2. Wesleyan promotes vegan options at meals, 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 500 Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff.  The Co-op distributes produce, dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and butter), meat, eggs, tofu, seitan, granola, jam, 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 Appetit 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. Since 2013, we have tracked Usdan's food waste through the EPA Food Recovery Challenge.
    4. Bon Appétit’s Eco-to-Go Program 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.
    5. Bon Appétit operates a reusable mug program, which gives students and employees a 10 cent discount on a cup of coffee at Pi Café and Usdan Café.  Anyone who purchases a Wesleyan reusable mug in the Cardinal Technology Store gets a 10% discount on the mug and on any cup of coffee they purchase on campus using the mug.  Long Lane Farm receives $1 of the proceeds from each mug sold.
    6. No trays are used in any dining halls.
    7. 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 2019-20, Wesleyan diverted nearly 90 tons of food waste and compostable products from the incinerator via on and off-campus composting.
    4. Ten new compost, trash, and recycling stations have been installed in Usdan, Exley, Olin, and in high-traffic outdoor locations to better collect compostable items.
    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. 


Michael Strumpf, Resident District Manager, Bon Appetit