KINGSTON – A University of Rhode Island cafeteria was recently recognized for its excellence in service, quality and sustainability.
The school’s Hope Commons dining facility earned a bronze medal from the National Association of College and University Food Services. This marks the fifth consecutive year the cafeteria was recognized.
According to University officials, a key reason for the facility’s success, and one that they are particularly proud of, are the efforts of the staff to make its operations as environmentally friendly as possible.
“Some sustainability initiatives we do completely on our own and some we rely on the campus community for help,” Michael McCullough, associate administrator of URI Dining Services, said in a statement. “They add up and are all important for us to be able to tax the environment less. Simply put, it’s the right thing to do.”
The newest addition to the dining services’ sustainability initiatives is the sale of its waste vegetable oil to Newport Biodiesel for conversion to biofuel.
A major focus of dining services is the procurement of foods from local vendors. The primary vendor for produce is Roch’s Fresh Foods of Narragansett, which works closely with local farmers to streamline the process of acquiring local produce from multiple locations in the state.
More than 30 other vendors from Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut provide most other items on the menu.
URI students also grow some produce – basil for pesto, herbs, cherry tomatoes and salad greens – right on campus.
“You can’t get any more local than that,” McCullough said.