While UNH Dining may be known on campus more for the variety of delicious and healthy foods available on a daily basis, it recently received accolades for its commitment to the environment.
Holloway Commons and Stillings Hall have earned two-star certification from the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), a nonprofit organization that encourages restaurants to be more environmentally responsible.
Certified Green Restaurants undergo a 51-step assessment focusing on such factors as energy use, disposal practices, food procurement, pollution reduction and water conservation, with points awarded in each category based on compliance with GRA standards.
“We are proud to have achieved such recognition,” says David Hill, UNH Dining’s assistant director of culinary, who worked closely with GRA auditors for six months toward the certification.
Philbrook Hall is now also going through the GRA process and is expected to receive certification by the end of February.
Meanwhile, UNH Dining has also received recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its food recovery program — the only campus in the state to receive an achievement certificate for keeping 50 percent or more of its food waste out of landfills.
The Food Recovery Challenge is part of the EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program, explains Colleen Flaherty of the UNH Sustainability Institute. The challenge aims to reduce the environmental impact of materials throughout their entire life cycles — from extraction to manufacturing and from distribution and use to reuse, recycling and disposal.
“The Sustainability Institute, in partnership with UNH Dining, conducted an inventory of wasted food and submitted the information to register for the challenge,” Flaherty says. “In partnership with UNH Dining, we chose and submitted an activity for UNH, which was diverting waste from the landfill. We then tracked our progress and submitted results through EPA's system each year.”
The EPA award recognizes UNH Dining’s composting efforts — which kept almost 212 tons of food waste out of landfills in 2014 alone, up from about 198 tons in 2013.
UNH was one of 24 institutions in New England to be recognized, Flaherty notes, adding that Food Recovery Challenge participants include such groups as grocers, educational institutions, restaurants and sports and entertainment venues.