Food Sustainability Report Card for the Student Union Building at Dalhousie University
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The concept of sustainable development is one of the big ideas of our time. Every individual needs to appreciate their part in turning our global challenges into opportunities to build more resilient local and global communities. Sustainable actions are generally defined as “meeting the needs of the present, without compromising those of the future”, a balanced state between social, environmental, and economic success. Dalhousie has committed to becoming a leader in sustainable institutional development and is devoted to greening our campus at all levels of operation. As students, we see the need for change and also the potential that lies in our current position within the system. Concurrently, addressing the food system and consumers‟ awareness regarding the nature of the foods available at the Student Union Building at Dalhousie seemed an appropriate and meaningful undertaking treating the Campus As A Living Laboratory. For the purpose of this project and in compliance with the Yale University Sustainable Food Project, evaluating “sustainable food” encompasses identifying the origin and the production methods which are crucial to sustainable operations. Sustainable foods and production practices are the results of respecting social, ecological, and economic needs which are reflected in the food production system through employing environmentally and socially sound agriculture, respecting labor rights and fair trade, and also providing operational transparency to the consumer. A combination of exploratory and descriptive research was produced the desired results for an accurate evaluation of foods at the SUB. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of data from literature, and interviews concerning the Student Union Building and the food service provider Sodexo aided in creating a food report card. Sodexo provides various foods to the SUB while overall reaching less than 50% for our best practice criteria. JustUs! offers organic fair-trade coffee, herbal teas, and cane sugar receiving a perfect score for sustainability in practices. Evaluations for PizzaPizza, Booster Juice, and Tim Horton‟s span from „good practices‟ in food production to „foods to avoid‟ as a sustainability conscious consumer. Conclusively, results of our research yields a number of different paths that could be pursued to enhance and further the investigation we have begun. Our recommendations for future research are widespread, encompassing aspects from policy and contracts to organic farming. New food service suppliers need to be explored while educational programs and direct student involvement are crucial in sustainable food system developments on campus. Dalhousie is at the cusp of leading Canada‟s universities in overall sustainability and we believe that food purchasing is the next step in continuing this impressive record. By using every resource available, including student groups, future research and educational awareness campaigns, we feel that the DSU has the ability to provide economically viable food for the masses while still honouring the importance of food sustainability in the SUB.