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Sodexo Initiatives

Greener Dining

Contributed by Shawn De Veau
Dean of Students

During this past semester, Merrimack College and Sodexo Food Service have made efforts to make the dining facilities more environmentally friendly, i.e. “green”.  The first major step was to change out all of the napkins and napkin dispensers to a more environmentally friendly paper product.  In addition, Sodexo utilized all sustainable products for the Academic Convocation luncheon.

In an effort to further increase our efforts and after requesting input from the Student Government Association, I have requested Sodexo to go “tray free” in the Crossroads Café.  This will make us similar to approximately 50% of the campuses that Sodexo Food Service works at around the country.

Each week, Sodexo Food Service serves upwards of 15,000 meals in the Crossroads Café.  For each tray used for these meals, approximately 1 to 1.5 gallons of water is needed to clean them as well as the requisite amount of detergent.  At the lowest estimates, we hope to save about 15,000 gallons of water per week.  In addition, studies have shown that food waste decreases by 1.5 – 2 ounces per students when dining halls are tray free.  Given the college’s ongoing pursuit of social justice, creating less food waste is also a strong reason to proceed with this effort.

Recognizing that being tray free may create some logistical concerns for students, Sodexo has purchased larger plastic cups for drinks and will also pursue other dishes as needed.  However, this change will not be without some sacrifice and inconvenience on the part of each customer especially as it relates to multiple trips to the service area for food.  I believe that these are small steps to ask to make such a large savings in water, food and, ultimately, cost.  As we proceed through the semester and are able to better quantify savings, I will be back in communication with you to explain where we have savings and how we will be utilizing these savings to improve service.  I look forward to seeing you in the new and improved Crossroads Café dining hall in the spring semester!

Sodexo Dining Services have been part of Merrimack College for over 25 years. Sodexo is a global corporation based in France with 29,000 sites in 80 different countries world wide. The main headquarters in the United States is located in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  Sodexo has a contract with Merrimack College to serve food, and to provide that service they cooperate with many local, regional, national and even international food distributors. Some of the main food vendors for Merrimack College are Hallsmith Sysco Food Services, Costco, Garelick Farms, George Weston Bakeries, Shaheen Bros. Inc., and Pepsi.

Other Green Activities

In addition to the adoption of 'tray less' food service, Sodexo is involved in other green endeavors on campus, including:

  • Sodexo Services recycles all cardboard and donates used vegetable oil to the Physical Plant for conversion into bio-fuel
  • Sodexo uses the Apex Warewashing System, a new dish washing detergent developed by Ecolab, Inc. This detergent is known for a unique combination of detergent rinse additive
  • Sodexo Corporation has also replaced existing dishwashers with new energy and water saving appliances
  • Sodexo is an active member of the Campus Sustainability InitiativeSodexo is an active member of the Campus Sustainability Initiative
Links and Additional Information

Sodexo 2007 Corporate Citizenship Report

Sustainable Dining Dictionary

Sustainable Food Resources in the Northeast

Sustainable Campus Food Service Programs

The Northeast Food System Partnership

Northeast Organic Farming Association - Massachusetts Community Supported Agriculture