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Western Kentucky University

WKU Office of Sustainability - Dining

Sustainable Dining Efforts at WKU


All kitchen and diner plate food waste is composted. So far in 2015, we have diverted 8.8 tons of food waste from the landfill. The food waste is pulped, collected in a container, and delivered to the Baker Arboretum where it is finished and used on-site for soil enrichment.

Composting is good; eliminating food waste is the focus. Tray-less dining is an effective strategy for waste reduction. Long ago, Fresh Food Company went tray less. Not only has this reduced food waste by 25-30%, but it also reduces water use, chemical use, and labor. Trays are available by request at the counter.

To ensure that contamination is not a problem in our compost, we eliminated plastic straws in the dining hall, replacing them with paper. Did you know that plastic straws are not recyclable on our campus? If you must have a straw, let it be paper. 

Fresh Food Company napkins are recycled content, unbleached, and biodegradable. 

We have been working hard on sourcing local food for Fresh Food Company. As a Farm to Campus school, we seek to serve Kentucky Proud as much as possible. This is a work in progress and takes time because our approach is to purchase direct from farmers. We want to know our farms and farmers, and we want to serve fruits and vegetables that were harvested and delivered directly to WKU within hours, not days. 

We are recycling used cooking oil. Fresh Food Company used oil is delivered to the WKU Farm, where Engineering students turn it into biodiesel for use in farm vehicles and equipment.

Fresh Food Company is not the only place we are working on sustainability initiatives.

All of our campus coffee shops feature Udderly Kentucky Milk.

Eco Grounds coffee is served in Fresh Food, Garrett Food Court, and Passport.

All coffee shops have a Fair Trade coffee option.

And china is now available for catered events at no extra charge.

WKU Dining Services is working hard to demonstrate sustainability best practices in services and operations. Here are a few of the initiatives we're working on:

  • Composting of pre and post consumer food waste in Fresh Food Company (click for full story and great photos!)
  • Kentucky Proud - WKU is proud to be a Kentucky Proud member. Look for Kentucky Proud products in our dining locations and in convenience stores on campus, and Kentucky Proud popcorn at athletic events. 
  • Sourcing of local foods - WKU Dining is working to increase the volume of foods sourced locally. In 2014/2015, look for locally sourced tomatoes and greens in Fresh Food Company and other dining locations. More details coming soon!
  • Grow Towers demonstration project - We are growing fresh greens and herbs in Fresh Food Company, trying out Grow Towers! 

These efforts are just the beginning. WKU strives to continuously improve as a sustainable campus, and we do in Dining Services as well!  

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 Last Modified 11/13/15