BU Dining Services has been making concerted efforts to promote and increase sustainability measures across its operations in recent years, with programs touching everything from waste reduction and food recovery to local purchasing.
This year BU Dining is partnering with LeanPath to help minimize food waste during its food production process through the LeanPath 360 unit, a fully integrated food waste tracking system with a touchscreen terminal, bench scale and camera that allows the department to better train staff on reducing waste wherever possible in the production process.
Post-consumer LeanPath has also been introduced on campus. It allows dish rooms to collect, weigh and analyze what guests are leaving on their plates. Not only is this data shared with students on a daily basis to encourage them to take only what they can eat, but it allows the culinary team to assess guest dining patterns and make recipe adjustments accordingly.
For excess food that is still edible, BU Dining established a partnership with food recovery network Food for Free, based in nearby Cambridge, that repurposes excess food into pre-portioned, healthy and nutritious “Family Meals.” Food for Free gathers food donations from catering, retail and residential locations at BU, packages them and distributes to local families in need. Notably, Food for Free programs address not only short-term hunger, but obesity, diet-related disease, and other long-term health effects of food insecurity and poor nutrition.
Last year, BU Dining committed to obtaining 20 percent of its food from sustainable sources, and it exceeded that goal by achieving 23.5 percent local purchasing in its first year. Now, the department is focused on finding more produce, dairy, protein and baked goods that meet the STARS sustainability criteria of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education so it can meet its next goal of 25 percent local and sustainable purchases by 2020.
Finally, students at BU’s Union Court can take advantage of the reusable container program when they order meals to go. For a nominal charge, they can purchase reusable containers and receive a 25-cent discount at the register each time they choose the container over compostable products.
To make things even easier, bins for dirty reusable containers are readily available in the dining room so that students don’t have to worry about washing them out. Moving forward, BU Dining plans to start assessing surcharges on diners who continue to use disposable plates and bowls.
Other recent initiatives include expanding BU’s campus kosher dining room this past fall to include a completely vegan component. Kosher meat offerings are available in one section of the open kitchen and an extensive plant-based menu, also prepared using kosher ingredients, is offered in a separate serving area.
This upscale dining room, seating 200 guests, overlooks the Charles River and is also available for catered events during the summer months. Menus change between lunch and dinner, and a large self-serve salad bar is available as are vegan desserts and soup.
Elsewhere, the Boston University Castle, a historic and beloved campus icon, is currently undergoing a significant renovation as the turn-of-the-century mansion is being updated to include the Dahod Alumni Center, an a la carte faculty dining room and a campus pub. A new 1,000-square-foot commercial kitchen is being added to address the foodservice needs of the space.
While being careful to maintain the historical integrity of the sandstone exterior, a rooftop terrace is being added to the main floor and a glassed-in conservatory is expanding the pub area to allow for additional seating. High-efficiency MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) systems are replacing outdated, original HVAC systems, preserving the legacy of the Castle while creating an accessible, elegant space for members of the Boston University community at large.
Also, two retail spaces located in the lower level of Marciano Commons will be combined to create one large late-night restaurant for East Campus. To be called Bay State Underground, it will feature campus favorites such as prosciutto and arugula brick oven pizza with caramelized onions; Korean wings; and the Roadhouse Burger with cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, onion rings and barbecue sauce.
Additional lighter menu items are being added with the focus being on locally sourced, organic ingredients. Among them will be offerings like miso marinated chicken breast with sweet potato miso spread, sticky watermelon rind, sliced cucumber and local living greens on toasted naan bread; and apple cider and Cape Cod cranberry brined natural turkey breast with curried butternut spread, sour cabbage and Muenster on oat bread.
Nitro cold-brew coffee and tea will be available on tap, as will kombucha and herbal teas. Being redesigned as a comfortable gathering space with low lighting, soft seating, multiple televisions and music throughout, this location is expected to be a popular draw for BU students in this part of campus after dark.