Sustainability and Dining Services
At Eastern, Dining Services play a pivotal role in campus sustainability efforts. Eastern’s Hurley Dining Hall provides students with many healthy options including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free selections as well as antibiotic-free poultry, chicken and pork. In addition, the dining hall buys local produce and uses cage-free shell eggs. Hurley uses a “trayless” system, which reduces food waste and eliminates water and energy costs associated with washing trays. An added benefit to students is shorter lines.
Senior Director of Dining Services
Jeffrey Kwolek began working at Eastern in December of 2015, bringing with him a vast background in the food service industry. Jeffrey has been in the business for almost 33 years, and before coming to Eastern, he worked as an Executive Chef and as the Dining Hall Operations Manager at Yale University. Jeffrey Kwolek emphasized this year’s motto “One team, one goal” hoping for all staff, faculty, and students to work together and be on the same page about how dining services are to become greener and more sustainable in the near future. He hopes to educate the Eastern community on dining sustainability, composting food waste, and recycling to help limit what enters our landfills, and plans to begin these efforts by inviting the campus community to meet local farmers, and promote sustainability at upcoming events.
The Dining Services at Eastern recently underwent changes that improves the commitment to sustainability, a vision that is being led by Jeff. Some of the new features include taking advantage of local farmers and seasonal vegetables and purchasing produce from within a 150-mile radius – which helps reduce the carbon footprint. Hurley Dining Hall has been made more sustainable will the installation of LED light fixtures, new menus, and a restructuring of the seating which makes the hall a friendlier, more sustainable place to enjoy. Original tables and chairs of the dining were re-purposed and donated to local churches for continued use. Students are now encouraged to scrape all post consumed food scrapes into trash bins which will then be composted rather then sent to landfills. There is also a lot of work being done on catering of events on campus. The catering system is changing to feature compostable utensils and plates, with a heavy focus on composting all food waste after events and recycling any other form of waste.
In May 2017, Eastern’s Dining Service, with the help of Willimantic’s Willi-Waste, made its first compost delivery to Quantum BioPower. Quantum BioPower is a food waste recycling center located in Southington, Connecticut. Using anaerobic digestion technology, Quantum is able to convert food waste into biogas energy and organic fertilizers. Currently, Hurley Hall is sending all pre-meal and post consumer food scraps to Quantum BioPower to be composted. Such an action is a large step in being a waste free dining hall. For more information on Quantum BioPower, visit their website at www.quantumbiopower.com.
Reusable Take-Out Containers
Starting in Fall 2017, Hurley Dining Hall began implementing reusable take-out containers in replacement of the old, disposable ones. Doing so will remove around 66,000 paper take-out containers a year from the waste stream (33,000 a semester), saving both money and reducing the environmental impact. These new containers are BPA and Melamine free and are also created from 50% recycled material. The idea is simple, buy one reusable take-out container and you can use it over and over again. With the motive, “Give 1 – Get 1″, simply drop off your used take-out container at Hurley Hall and pick up a clean one to use for lunch or dinner.
Just remember, it is your responsibility to ensure your reusable take-out container does not get lost or damaged. Below are some frequently asked questions you may have concerning the new reusable take-out containers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Warrior Food Recovery Program
In January 2017, Eastern Connecticut State University announced a new program to decrease food waste throughout the university’s dining services. The idea was proposed by Jeffrey Kwolek, the senior director of Eastern’s dining services. The goal of this program is to deliver left over food to the Willimantic Covenant Soup Kitchen in attempts to reduce food waste and feed those who need it. With help from student leaders Zachary Stygar (Institute for Sustainable Energy), Wali Mohammad (Center for Community Engagement), Sarah Tricarico (CCE) and Goy Voladate (CCE), the program started within a month and has quickly become a success among its community.
Fresh, unspoiled food is delivered to the soup kitchen twice a week and the results have been more than positive.
93 2,300 1,323.6 Ibs
Totals for the past 15 deliveries:
(Information updated as of October 16, 2017)