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Campus dining is making sustainable strides

One thing that draws many students, including myself, to FGCU is the environmental concentrations and sustainability focus of the university. FGCU Campus Dining has implemented a series of goals to continue striving towards sustainability.
The new “What We’re Doing” signs can be seen around campus with a list of achievements and goals that contribute to making FGCU’s sustainability mission. 
“Sustainability is important for this basic reason: we only have one Earth and we need to take care of it,” said Ashley Farquhar, FGCU Campus Dining’s Assistant Director of Marketing and Sustainability. “What is great about it, is that the word ‘sustainability’ means so many different things to people.”
Ashley further explained, “There are so many different ways for us to connect to it and find what is important to us as individuals. From plant-based diets, Fair Trade, recycling, committing to less plastic, visiting farmers markets, or upcycling: the options are endless. We can change our lives and the life of our planet when we find that thread that connects us to sustainability and practice it every day.” 
Campus Dining is doing just that. 
There are a number of aspects to the Campus Dining sustainability components, which can best be broken down into three fundamental categories: food, recycling and campus partnerships.
One of the goals specifically focuses on using produce that most people would throw away for looking too “ugly” to be served, even though it is perfectly good food.
Another major goal of sustainability is to increase vegan and vegetarian options in all dining locations. Most plant-based diets are not only healthier, but also better for the planet by reducing the carbon emissions associated with producing meat, especially when it comes to raising cattle.
The Real Food Challenge is a nationwide initiative to shift university food spending to meet criteria of fair, humane, ecologically sound  and local and community-based. One to three FGCU student interns work to analyze food invoices and research alternative food options. Overall, the Real Food Challenge makes strides toward implementing sustainable food options on university campuses.
Victoria SanFilippo, a senior majoring in legal studies, participated as an intern with the Real Food Challenge, and she has recently been appointed as Student Government’s Director of Sustainability.
“Personally, I want to explore some of the different facets of sustainability, such as social justice and dining, in conjunction with Student Government,” SanFilippo said. “I’m excited to engage students with some new topics through events, tabling sessions and initiatives. I seek to spark more conversation about sustainability and help students understand that small changes to daily life can hold a major impact on the world.”
Campus Dining’s recycling components consists of physically recycling products that they use in dining locations, and also making efforts to use as many recycled products as possible. For example, all napkins are made of 100 percent recycled materials.
The campus partnerships are the most impressive aspect of the sustainability initiative. While every department on campus strives for sustainability, there are a few programs worth noting.
Campus Dining holds food drives throughout the year to benefit the campus food pantry, which provides students with additional, nutritious food to get them through each week. They also donate to the FGCU Green Revolving Fund in order to focus on general campus projects to increase sustainability.
For every to-go container sold, Campus Dining makes a donation to support programming by Environmental Health & Safety on campus. They partner with colloquium classes in order to reduce waste from dining locations and educate students on how to best be sustainable.

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