Butler Dining Launches New Sustainable Food Grant Program

Laying hens at Spring Valley Farms in Indiana

Butler University and its food service partner, Bon Appétit Management Company, are proud to announce the launch of the Food Enterprises Achieving Sustainability Together (FEAST) Fund, as part of their commitment to strengthening the local food system.

Butler students, campus groups, and departments — as well as food suppliers — can submit applications for sustainable food-related projects that will benefit the campus community.

“The FEAST Fund exemplifies Butler’s commitment to sustainability and student innovation,” said Dr. Frank E. Ross, Butler Vice President for Student Affairs. “Students will be empowered to take action and build an eco-friendlier campus that contributes to our collective health and well-being. As many face food insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a commitment to practice sustainable consumption and tackle food waste. The FEAST Fund will help us do just that.”

The egg-washing conveyor belt at Spring Valley Farms

To inspire other applicants, the committee has launched its first project: an egg centrifuge that cracks eggs at very high speed, which will allow for eggs from Spring Valley Farms in Hagerstown, Indiana, to be used more widely at Butler.

Butler Dining already buys some local eggs, along with local produce, meat, cheese, and more from many local farms, ranches, and food artisans. But it was also buying precracked (aka, “liquid”) eggs from a national Certified Humane supplier, due to the impracticality of using whole eggs in a large-scale food service operation. The centrifuge was proposed by Bon Appétit Executive Chef Chad Melinger and researched with the leader of Local Farms Harvest, a farming co-op of which Spring Valley is a member. The machine allows Butler Dining to use more locally sourced eggs without the hassle of cracking them all by hand.

“Supporting our local Farm to Fork partners and fighting food waste are key parts of the Bon Appétit culture,” said Bon Appétit Regional Vice President Randy DeMers. “I’m looking forward to seeing what other innovative ideas from the Butler community we can support from the FEAST Fund.”

Bon Appétit Management Company is the first food service company to have made a commitment to local purchasing, launching its Farm to Fork program in 1999, and the first to switch to cage-free eggs companywide, starting in 2005. The FEAST Fund is open to the Butler community, as well as to existing Bon Appétit Farm to Fork suppliers. Application guidelines and deadlines can be found on the Butler Dining website.