Empowering Students to Embrace Sustainable Eating

Published on : 5/7/24
  • The food service industry is stepping up to the plate to meet the needs of consumers. Through initiatives like the Sustainable Food Barometer and commitments to plant-forward menus on campuses, Sodexo is paving the way for a more sustainable food landscape.

    The Sustainable Food Barometer is a comprehensive study examining attitudes and behaviors toward sustainable eating, providing valuable insights into the preferences of this generation, particularly college students. According to the findings, a staggering 69% of U.S. students express a desire to consume more sustainably while on campus — which includes cutting food waste and embracing plant-based diets. This statistic underscores the growing importance of sustainability in food choices among the younger demographic.

    "The Sustainable Food Barometer study reaffirms what we've been hearing from students — they want options that align with their values and that support a more sustainable food system,” emphasizes Kate Shearer, Director of Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility Operational Excellence at Sodexo.

    Students Support Sustainable Eating

    There is an overwhelming positive perception of sustainable food among 18-24-year-olds, with 69% expressing favorable views. According to Jen DiFrancesco, Director of Campus Dining at Sodexo, "It's inspiring to see the level of enthusiasm among students for sustainable eating. This aligns perfectly with our commitment to increasing plant-based offerings and partnering with local farmers for our campus menus."

    Furthermore, the urgency expressed by Americans to adopt sustainable eating practices, as highlighted by 72% of respondents, underscores the need for action. Sodexo recognizes this imperative and has set ambitious goals to address it. By ensuring that there are delicious plant-based menu options on college campuses, Sodexo aims to significantly reduce its carbon footprint while meeting the evolving expectations of consumers.

    Cole MacFaddin, a student from the University of Maine, said, “Being part of this student body, I feel good knowing that Sodexo is partnering with Maine Course to bring us meals that support local farmers and the environment. I can see the impact of Sodexo's collaboration with Maine Course in the freshness and quality of our food, thanks to its commitment to local produce.”



    Swiping Out Hunger

    Accessibility remains a challenge. Programs like Swipe Out Hunger, which gives students extra “swipes” to access their campus dining facilities for a meal, play a crucial role in making sustainable eating more accessible to college students. By addressing food insecurity and redistributing surplus food, Swipe Out Hunger not only ensures that students have access to nutritious meals but also promotes sustainability by minimizing food waste.

    "Swipe Out Hunger is a powerful example of how we can leverage existing resources to support sustainable eating habits among students. It's about more than just providing food; it's about fostering a culture of sustainability and accessibility on campus," Shearer says.

    In line with its commitment to sustainability, Sodexo has outlined menu pillar priorities that reflect its dedication to offering healthier, more climate-friendly food options. These priorities include increasing plant-based offerings, reimagining mindful recipes, sourcing ingredients locally and focusing on zero-waste practices. By adhering to these principles, Sodexo is not only meeting the demands of its consumers but also driving positive change in the food industry.

    When higher education institutions choose to serve more plant-based offerings, they demonstrate an understanding of student preferences while leading the way toward a more environmentally conscious future. By creating urgency and awareness around sustainable eating, students are embracing habits that will benefit both their health and the planet for generations to come.