Bon Appetit, Hamilton’s food service provider, operates The Green Café at McEwen and is intent on supporting College sustainability efforts with a menu that relies on local agriculture and fisheries. The café is an embodiment of Bon Appetit’s food philosophy and commitment to sustainability. More than half the produce for Bon Appetit’s “Green Goals” and “Farm to Fork” initiatives comes from Wagner Farms in Rome, N.Y., and the initiatives provide vegan and vegetarian fare. As part of Bon Appetit’s commitment to social responsibility, the company uses biodegradable paper and environmentally friendly cleaning products.
Since 2007, the Hamilton Community Farm, run largely by students, has been an outdoor classroom for hands-on learning. Students use sustainable and organic techniques to produce food on a ¾-acre plot near Ferguson House, under the guidance and management of Hillary Joy Pitoniak. The farm includes the 1812 Garden, a project that grew out of “Food for Thought: The Science, Culture, and Politics of Food,” a course taught by Associate Professor of Russian Frank Sciacca and Professor of Biology David Gapp. Students sell the produce from the farm to the community and to Bon Appetit for use in Hamilton dining facilities.
In 2011, Hamilton launched an organic food-scrap composting program that is primarily managed by the College Physical Plant and Bon Appetit. Bon Appetit workers collect the food scraps from College dining facilities and catering operations, and Physical Plants employees transport the debris to a local composting partner, the Crane Farm on College Hill Road. Campus composting grew in 2013, when Hamilton employees Amy James and Ann Riffle started food-scrap waste collection programs in their offices. The next year, the Recycling Task Force began compost collection in several residential spaces, with the help of students. Hamilton’s composting efforts now divert nearly 130 tons of compostable food-scrap waste a year from the local landfill, which saves the College money and cuts down on greenhouse gas.
Slow Food/Real Food Challenge
Slow Food is an international, grassroots organization that links the pleasure of good food with a commitment to local communities and the environment. Slow Food Hamilton College takes this traditional philosophy one step further and spotlights the interconnectivity between our environment, food, and health. We work to promote fair food education, increase the availability of clean and healthy food, and defend the world’s biodiversity. Hamilton is part of the Real Food Challenge, a national campaign to transform college and university food purchasing toward a just and sustainable world through the power of youth. The national goal is to shift, by 2020, $1 billion of existing university food budgets toward “real” food, meaning local or community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food. The campus Real Food Challenge hopes to sign a commitment with Bon Appétit and the Office of the President to increase the percentage of real food to more than 20% by 2020, which will help distinguish Hamilton as a leading institution in sustainability.
In collaboration with HEAG, the Physical Plant has committed to installing eight water-bottle hydration stations across campus for the 2014-15 academic year. A total of five already have been installed in The Kennedy Center for Theatre and the Studio Arts, Sage Rink, Blood Fitness Center and the Physical Plant. Hydration stations will soon be installed in the Burke Library all-night reading room, the Taylor Science Center near Café Opus 2 and the Field House main entrance.