Watch out California, there’s a new “green” college in town — one you might not have encountered! At Marymount California University in Los Angeles (formerly known as Marymount College), Bon Appétit General Manager Donna Novotney and Executive Chef Luis Jimenez have worked closely with the college’s sustainability officer, Kathleen Talbot, to tackle waste in the dining hall head on. In one semester they’ve gone trayless, phased out Styrofoam to-go containers, successfully implemented a reusable to-go container program, started a student garden, and launched a living herb wall!
Each of these initiatives plays an important role in addressing waste in the café from all angles. For example, going trayless has been proven to reduce consumer food waste in a dining hall by at least 30% on average, as people’s eyes always seem to be bigger than their stomachs. Not to mention over 50 people have signed up for the MCU reusable to-go container program since August, which means at least 500 to-go boxes are not going to the landfill each week. That number will only grow as more people join the program. Donna and Luis have also worked with their team to start a food recovery program this semester. They’re taking the leftover food from the dining hall that would otherwise go to waste, and donating it to the Midnight Mission in LA through the Chefs to End Hunger program.
It can take years before colleges adopt even one of these programs, and the staff at Marymount California University have launched them all over the course of a few months. Even for Bon Appétit Management Company, that’s been an ambitious to-do list. As Bon Appétit’s new waste sustainability specialist (formerly the BAMCO Foundation’s West Coast Fellow), I hereby dub Donna, Luis, and the MCU team our So-Cal Sustainability Champions!