Menus feature locally grown food whenever possible and financially feasible. Nearly 20 percent of the $4.3 million Blugold Dining spends in a year on food is used to purchase food products produced and distributed within 150 miles of Eau Claire. An innovative partnership with a western Wisconsin business is the newest way that Blugold Dining is contributing to the local economy while also supporting the university’s commitment to sustainability. Blugold Dining consistently serves meat products that have been raised and processed locally through agreement with Cadott-based Crescent Meats, a family owned and operated full-service meat processing plant located fewer than 30 miles from Eau Claire. Ninety percent of dairy offered through Blugold Dining — including sour cream, many cheeses and the nearly 600 gallons per week of milk consumed by the campus community — comes from local vendors. Bottled water sold on campus comes from Chippewa Springs, a local bottled water distributor.
Blugold Dining sponsors the annual Hands Across America food drive. In November 2013 a total of 4,960 pounds of food and $872 in cash was collected and donated to the Feed My People Food Bank. Another campus tradition, Soup and Bread Night has raised more than $17,000 since 1995. Soups, breads and beverages replace the usual evening meal in the contract service cafeteria, and the meal is served by volunteers. The event’s savings in food and labor costs are donated to Feed My People, which distributes food to more than 85 agencies serving senior citizens, the working poor, the homeless, the mentally ill and others in need throughout the Chippewa Valley.
Intermezzos Café and the Green Bean in Davies Center serve Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified coffees, both of which ensure that farmers and growers are paid fairly for their products. The Green Bean also features certified organic products.
Blugold Dining began a composting program in January 2009, contracting with a company to pick up composting materials and repurpose it. Nearly all wrappings, plates and utensils provided are compostable. Food trimmings also are collected for composting. Nearly 1,500 pounds of compostable trash is collected weekly.
After a Trayless Tuesdays program during 2008–09, Blugold Dining went completely trayless in 2009. Going trayless has reduced food waste by more than 50 percent, and has saved on natural resources needed to wash the more than 6,000 trays a day that had been customarily used.
RECYCLING + COMPOSTING
Blugold Dining works with other university groups to recycle everything from coffee grounds to fryer oil. All dining areas feature reusable plates, bowls, glasses and silverware. In addition, Blugold Dining has switched from traditional plastic and foam to biodegradable plates, cups and utensils.
Our dishwashing system saves water and energy, while minimizing the impact of waste products on the environment. All napkins are made of recycled paper. Blugold Dining uses a particular brand of napkin dispenser that is shown to reduce waste. Blugold Dining revamped its basic cooking practices, moving to batch cooking techniques that lower food waste rather than cooking large quantities and letting the food sit in a warmer.
Blugold Dining encourages healthy living by incorporating nutritious, health-conscious options in all dining areas.