Dining and Food

Dining Services provides an important role in promoting sustainability at Wesleyan. We have programs aimed at reducing dining hall food waste, food waste composting in dining halls and student residences, and a commitment to purchasing locally and sustainably produced food. We are continually working on reducing waste and purchasing sustainable foods. 

Bon Appetit Management Company, Wesleyan's dining service, has a number of policies and practices designed to promote sustainability of the food system.  Additionally, many student groups and campus offices aid in these efforts. 

Wesleyan students run the Local Food Cooperative, through which the Wesleyan community can purchase locally grown or made foods.

The initiatives below show what we plan to do via our 2016-2021 Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) and what we have already done. See pages 29-34 in the SAP for more details.

What We're Working On

  • Food Sourcing
    1. Expand Real Food Challenge to a second Bon Appétit eatery - no longer pursuing due to student volunteer limitations
    2. Introduce an outreach program to reduce meat consumption in Usdan Marketplace - Veg Out Tuesdays are held each week to introduce students to plant-based options.
    3. Develop a marketing strategy for existing sustainable food purchases - in progress via Bon Appetit
  • Reducing Food Waste
    1. Conduct annual waste audits in Usdan and Summerfields - Compost Interns conduct these audits annually
    2. Develop a social marketing strategy to reduce food waste - Compost Interns run periodic "Clean Plate Challenges" to reduce food waste 
    3. Expand “Taste, Don’t Waste” program to the vegan and sandwich sides stations at Marketplace - no longer pursuing
    4. Reduce portion sizes at catered events - in progress
    5. Educate catering customers on portion sizes and effective ordering strategies - complete with SAGES working group catering ordering guide, now provided through Bon Appetit
    6. Develop social marketing strategy to reduce dishware theft - ongoing 
    7. Strengthen Cupanion reusable mug program at Usdan Café and Pi Café - will replace Cupanion program with reusable mug discounts in Fall 2020
    8. Encourage Eco-to-Go use at outdoor events - ongoing
    9. Expand participation in Eco-to-Go - ongoing 
    10. Research impacts of disposable and reusable dinnerware - not yet started
  • Diverting Food Waste
    1. Install an on-campus composting or anaerobic digestion system to accommodate all food waste - not currently pursuing due to cost and satisfaction with current food waste hauler
    2. Expand front-of-the-house food waste collection to all catered events - ongoing
    3. Increase collection rates of post-consumer food waste - ongoing, have introduced food waste collection bins at Red & Black Cafe, WesWings, and Resource Center, as well as public-facing bins in about 10 indoor and outdoor locations
    4. Develop and launch a social marketing plan to increase residential composting participation - ongoing

What We've Done

  • Food Sourcing
    1. 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.
    2. All coffee is organic, fair trade, and kosher, all liquid and shell 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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. 
    8. 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.
    9. Veg Out Tuesdays occur every Tuesday since Fall 2016 to encourage plant-based eating and reduce student meat consumption.
  • Dining Options
    1. 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.  In 2012, Wesleyan won PETA's "Most Vegan-Friendly College" Contest for its variety and availability of vegan options and has consistently received an "A" rating.
    2. The Kosher section has vegetarian-only options at least one day per week and uses compostable dinnerware.
    3. The student-run Wesleyan 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).   
    4. 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 and Real Food Challenge volunteers conduct annual waste audits in Usdan and Summerfields dining halls to increase understanding of waste, with the goal of waste reduction.
    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’s Food Recovery Challenge.  We've received Food Recovery Regional Achievement Awards in 2014 and 2015, given to FRC participants that significantly reduce food waste. 
    4. Bon Appétit’s Eco-to-Go Program is available at Usdan and Summerfields dining halls. Students and employees who wish to join the program pay a one-time $5 fee to buy-in, which gives them access to reusable containers from that point forward.  About 400-500 students participate in the program each year.  
    5. Starting in 2014, all first-year students have received free Eco-to-Go containers through a pilot program to increase participation.  At the 2015 Orientation picnic for incoming students, students used only reusable Eco-to-Go containers and reusable cutlery, which reduced waste.
    6. 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.
    7. No trays are used in any dining halls.
    8. Cupanion, a program that rewards use of reusable mugs, was launched in August 2017. All first-year students are given a free reusable Cupanion mug during Orientation.
    9. As of Spring 2018, Usdan Marketplace uses only Eco-to-go reusable containers for takeout. 
    10. 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. Through Food Rescue, students pick up unsold food from Usdan, Pi Cafe, and Summerfields, and deliver them to local Eddy Shelter.
    3. 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.
    4. 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 2018-19, Wesleyan diverted 100 tons of food waste and compostable products from the incinerator via on and off-campus composting.
    5. 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.
    6. 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
(860) 685-3060