Sustainability and Sodexo
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Kenny Chism, Westmont graduate and current Sustainability Coordinator at Westmont, promotes the idea of limiting food waste. “Up to 40 percent of food in the United States is never eaten,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Sodexo, which provides food services at Westmont, “has committed to eliminating avoidable waste globally by 2025 through the company’s Better Tomorrow 2025 corporate responsibility roadmap.” Chism recognizes that the dining service’s initiative needs to be promoted by positive reinforcement, “where students feel excited and joyful to know that they are acting with sustainable principles, that they are taking care of creation.”
Compost can play an essential role in reducing waste. The process of composting involves particular ratios of organic materials and enough time for them to naturally decompose. Composting both yard waste and food scraps alike “creates a product that can be used to help improve soils, grow the next generation of crops, and improve water quality,” says the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
While there is no current composting system in the dining commons, Chism claims that we can expect a change soon. He estimates that Sodexo has been in conversation with the county for about a year and a half, stating he “would be shocked if [the composting system] wasn’t up and running by fall semester.”
But Westmont utilizes composting in the Vegetable Garden. Located behind the track, there are several varieties of plants, a chicken coop, and a few large composting piles. These compost piles use vegetable scraps and weeds from the garden itself to produce a soil every 2-3 months, that is then used for plants that we don’t eat in the dining commons, like wild flowers. Policy requires that foods that appear in the DC for “Farm-Fresh Fridays” are grown with commercial compost due to liabilities.
Chism hopes to “bring more sustainability principles to forefront of students’ minds” suggesting that students can best help by continuing to be mindful of how much food they take and throw away. In addition, Sodexo has a program where students can partner with a nonprofit called the Food Recovery Network, where the food that isn’t served in the DC or Ritchie’s Place can be donated to those in need. In each of these cases, student involvement has a vital influence on the wellbeing of the Westmont community and the environment.