One of the first things I did when I came to MIT was get myself on a bunch of email lists. I now know what is going on around campus with web publishing, communications, social media, with the arts organizations, with the LGBTQ community, and with “food at MIT” just to name a few.
This last one is one of my favorites and I get a number of emails in my inbox from The MIT Food and Agriculture Collaborative (MITFAC).
What’s that, you ask?
MITFAC brings together students – and other MIT community members – to coordinate and support work in the areas of food and agriculture. Members are actively engaged in advocating for and supporting the development of a more sustainable food system on our own campus.
They also work to enhance MIT’s role in contributing to the broader discourse on agricultural sustainability across the global system.
Just the other day through one of my MITFAC emails, I was warmly invited to a free sustainable luncheon in the Flowers Dining Room at Maseeh Hall by the Dining Manager for Baker House and MIT|Bon Appetit Management Company.
The lunch was delicious.
But the conversation around the table was just as good. A mix of perspectives and backgrounds was represented by those attending--as is the MIT way-- undergrad students, grad students, MIT staff, and research fellows who work with the farm to fork program researching labor practices throughout the entire supply chain. All of us chatted informally with Maisie Greenawalt, Bon Appetit VP of Strategy during the lunch about food industry ethics, sustainability, growers and pickers rights, and of course good food!
Here’s Maisie speaking at TEDx Fruitvale
I learned a lot of great things from attending this lunch, like the fact that MIT has a couple of great courses dedicated to Sustainability in Business and I discovered some great resources for myself, too.
Check out this list of Questions for Caterers to assess their sustainability that I pulled off of the MITFAC website.
1) Can you offer a seasonal menu featuring locally grown ingredients? Do you have local suppliers you could source these ingredients from? Which ingredients can you procure locally, and how would you define ‘local’?
2) Can you cater a meal using all or mostly certified organic ingredients? Which ingredients are or are you not able to procure organically? Do you have the means to confirm their certification?
3) Will you prepare all of the items you serve? What will be frozen, and what will be purchased fresh?
4) Are you able to provide dietary information on the menu you serve?
5) Are you able to offer a healthier menu (e.g. lower in calories), either exclusively or as one option for an event?
6) What types of vegetarian and vegan menus can you offer?
7) Are the coffee, bananas, and/or chocolate you offer fair trade certified?
8) Are you able to serve on china and/or offer reusable serving ware? Can you use reusable tablecloths and napkins?
9) Are you able to serve on compostable dinnerware? How about recyclable? Do you provide any materials to assist clients to process their waste properly?
10) Do you pay your employees a living wage?
11) What will it cost to meet the issues we have discussed?
12) Can you detail these items in the catering contract?
If you eat on campus in the dining plan, you can be sure that all of these questions have been considered when providing and preparing the food in your dining halls. This is just another example of how MIT students are privileged to have such opportunities, facilities and programs at their disposal.
And if you want to, you can always find a free lunch somewhere. Bon Appetit!