Dining Services at Wake Forest has a number of sustainability initiatives underway. Visit their website to learn more.
Local Dining Options
Join the local food movement by volunteering in the Wake Forest Campus Garden.
Hunger and Food Insecurity
The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University partners with Dining Services and local non-profits to reduce food waste and fight food insecurity in the Winston-Salem community.
Deacon Dining Connection
The Deacon Dining Connection is a student organization dedicated to influencing and discussing dining decisions at Wake Forest.
One of the most successful vendors at Campus Grounds is UpDog Kombucha, a local brand of fermented, enzyme-producing teas, that “support strong digestive and immune health”, according to their website.
Olivia Wolff, co-founder of the brand and Wake Forest alumna, said their partnership began when she wanted to test a new model of renting kegs to their vendors. In the first three weeks, they have sold 14 kegs of Kombucha—over 2,000 cups—in addition to hundreds of glass bottles in Campus Grounds.
“This has made UpDog a lot more accessible to students who can’t get off campus,” Wolff said. “It’s being received really well.”
Many students would be surprised to know how environmentally impactful their decision is to support local vendors and farmers.
According to Columbia University, most consumers could reduce their total carbon emissions by 4-5% by buying local food.
“Our facility is off Robinhood Road, about eight to 10 minutes from campus,” Wolff said. “Me and Lauren make everything ourselves.”
Supporting businesses right around the corner, like UpDog, makes a big difference, especially at a large campus like Wake Forest.
Cameron Waters, a peer mentor of Wellness and Mindful Consumption in the Thrive office, feels that students are largely unaware of the impact of their diet choices.
“At Wake Forest particularly, in terms of mindful consumption, people don’t know where their food comes from at all,” Waters said. “People will just blindfully take what they are given.”
In an effort to help students increase the sustainability of their habits, the school has increased its green efforts, especially in food services.
Ally Hellenga, the communication and events coordinator in the Sustainability Office, takes pride in the school’s sustainability efforts.
“Aramark has and continues to take strides to incorporate fresh, whole foods that are raised, grown, harvested and produced locally and/or sustainably wherever possible,” Hellenga said.
According to their website, Aramark has implemented initiatives such as local purchasing, recycling and trayless dining to limit waste on campus. With nearly 8,000 graduate and undergraduate students, plus thousands of faculty and staff, small changes like trayless dining halls make a big impact.
Similarly, UpDog believes it is their prerogative to reduce waste as much as possible in their manufacturing process.
“We have recyclable kegs, which are pretty revolutionary,” Wolff said. “As opposed to steel kegs, which you have to clean with chemicals and tons of water….you can just put it in the recycling.”
Many of their consumers really appreciate the difference.
Kate Shapiro, a sophomore from San Diego, noted that for her personally the health benefits from their locally sourced and organically grown ingredients make the difference for her.
“I enjoy it and it’s healthy,” Shapiro said. “I also like being able to help out local eating establishments.”
Shapiro said she was willing to pay the added price to buy local whenever possible.
Despite the short-term success of UpDog, it is hard to tell if students will be willing to pay these premiums in the long run. Is long term success in the books for UpDog, and other local vendors, or is it another passing trend?
“We all need to be asking where the food we eat comes from and make dining decisions based on the values that are important to us,” Hellenga said.
Post contributed by Julia Sawchak, ’15
Other featured local farms and producers included:
Apple Wedge Packers & Cider (Hendersonville, NC / apples)
Bagel Station (Winston-Salem / bagels)
Cangialosi Specialty (Greensboro / sausage)
Carolina Egg Companies (Red Oak, NC / eggs)
Cornucopia Cheese (Graham, NC / cheese)
Hickory Nut Gap Farm (Fairview, NC / meats)
Holy City Farms (Wadmalaw Island, SC / tomatoes)
Krankies Coffee (Winston-Salem / coffee)
Lively Orchards (Flat Rock, NC / apples)
Patterson Farm (China Grove, NC / tomatoes)
Sunny Creek Farm (Tryon, NC / bean sprouts, honey)
Tega Hills Farm (Fort Mill, SC / herbs)
Walter P. Rawl and Sons (Pelion, SC / collards)
Wake Forest Dining is committed to sustainability, with an increasing number of offerings from local farmers, growers, and distributors. Krankies Coffee and Bagel Station bagels, both Winston-Salem mainstays, are provided in the dining halls, and produce and meets from many different farms are used throughout the year, depending what is in season.
Local sourcing helps stimulate the local economy and rewards many smaller-scale growers for their hard work within the community. It also serves to reduce energy demands, as products do not need to be transported long distances. Finally, the close proximity allows produce and meats to arrive at Wake Forest quickly, leading to a fresher product with a longer shelf life.
Other sustainable initiatives by Wake Forest Dining include composting, waste and water reduction, fryer oil recycling, and organic sourcing of certain products. For more information, visit Aramark’s website.
by Brian Cohen, Office of Sustainability Program Coordinator
Forty-five students and guests enjoyed a heritage & heirloom foods dinner hosted by Wake Forest Dining on October 30 as part of the series of themed Thursday evening dinners in the Magnolia Room. The dinner was the brainchild of the sustainability team at Wake Forest in an effort to expose our campus community to heirloom and heritage foods native to and available in and around the North Carolina region. The evening’s menu featured the following local fare: pawpaws, sweet potatoes, apple butter, Joyce Farms poultry – chicken breasts, chicken sausage and chicken wings, persimmons, butternut squash ravioli, pink eyed peas, figs, and lima beans.
Joyce Farms donated the poultry served as part of an ongoing effort to bring awareness of their farm’s local quality products. The butternut squash ravioli, pink eyed peas, lima beans, sweet potatoes, and apple butter were all procured from farms and vendors from whom Wake Forest University regularly purchases local items. Procurement of both the pawpaws and persimmons was the trickiest task in rounding out the menu as pawpaw season tends to fall in late summer and both fruits are grown locally in limited quantities. Fortunately, several farmers in North Carolina have taken a particular interest in the pawpaw and have begun establishing orchards that grow up to 30 varieties of the fruit, and Wake Forest Dining was able to procure a large enough supply of whole frozen pawpaws, persimmons and figs from one of these farmers (Parker’s Pawpaw Patch) to include in a variety of menu items. Serving a meal such as our Heritage Dinner, which is done on a significantly smaller scale than meals typically served in our dining halls, allows for flexibility and creativity in expanding our menus to incorporate a wider variety of local foods.
Local sourcing is one element of Wake Forest Dining’s responsible purchasing program. It supports local farmers and economies, benefits the environment by reducing the amount of transportation fuel and emissions required to deliver foods, and in the case of seafood, supports the health of local fisheries.
Every day, we look for ways to incorporate responsibly purchased items into the mix of menu offerings, and by using environmentally friendly items in our operations. We have also established a variety of unique partnerships, so that we can offer clients and customers fresh, safe, whole foods that are raised, grown, harvested, and produced locally and in a sustainable manner whenever possible.
Contributed by Kate Ruley, Nutrition Director at Wake Forest Dining
“Ugly” is not the first word that comes to mind when considering which apple to eat. It does, however, describe the appearance of many heirloom apple varieties that have been lost since the standardization of the modern food system. The wild or “ugly” apple is known to have originated in Kazakhstan, and was brought to North America soon after the English settled in 1607. As cider became popular in the United States, apple seeds and grafted seedlings were planted throughout the country. This brought great biodiversity to the South with as many as 1,800 different heirloom varieties. Only 500 of those varieties, however, are still known to be in existence. This decline led Creighton Lee Calhoun, Jr. to serve as one of the foremost leaders in apple conservation in North America. He has dedicated his life to researching, growing and celebrating this ancient fruit, and has published his work in Old Southern Apples. Today, many of these old southern heirloom varieties are at risk of disappearing forever.
Inspired by Lee Calhoun’s love for apples, Salem Neff is working with her mother, Margaret Norfleet Neff, to continue the tradition of planting and growing out old southern heirloom apples. They are initiating the Southern Heirloom Apple Tree Project to revive cultural heritage and regional biodiversity. As a part of this project, the southern heirloom apple varieties, Sparger (origins in Mount Airy, NC) and Dula’s Beauty (origins in Caldwell County, NC) were planted in the historic Reynolda Gardens earlier this month. This mother-daughter team would like to encourage universities, organizations, and members of the community also to plant and grow heirloom apple trees of their own to protect and celebrate geographic heritage, agricultural biodiversity, and to promote good stewardship of the land.
The Southern heirloom apple project and initial planting coincided with Wake Forest’s fall speaker series, Make Every Bite Count . During the kick-off panel event, orchardist Eliza Greenman challenged the audience to eat ugly apples in order to preserve our bio-cultural heritage and to diversify our regional food economy. The final series’ keynote speaker, Dr. Vandana Shiva, supported the call and challenged us further to consider the connections between our conceptions of beauty and standardization. Shiva, whose non-profit Navdanya includes a 50-acre working farm, joined the apple planting ceremony, skillfully transferring the trees and soil into their new homes. The apple trees complement Pawpaw and American Persimmon trees on the main campus.
Lee Calhoun reminds us to encourage our elders to pass down their stories of growing, cooking, eating and drinking the juice of these fruits. By identifying, nurturing, and choosing to eat these heirloom varieties, you can help preserve a heritage that once defined the region. For those interested in being part of the Southern Heirloom Apple Tree Project, please contact Salem and Margaret at email@example.com.
Wake Forest University also invites other colleges and universities to join us in celebrating agricultural biodiversity by propagating, cooking, studying, and celebrating foods with regional biocultural significance. Click here for more information.
Contributed by Jennifer Miller (’14), Special Campaign Coordinator
Spring semester is here: new classes, new students, and the highly anticipated opening of North Campus Dining Hall. The 21,000 square foot-facility was designed and constructed to LEED-silver standards. From equipment to furnishings, it showcases some unique – even one-of-a-kind – sustainable design features.
John Wise, Associate Vice President of Hospitality & Auxiliary Services at WFU, who helped oversee the project, emphasizes the value of creating a building that does more than just meet the functional needs of campus: “Beyond simply meeting the needs of a growing student population, it is important that we create an environment that showcases sustainable practices that students can adopt and learn about now, so that when they leave Wake Forest, they will bring an understanding of what’s possible with them.”
Energy and Water
Behind-the-scenes technical features create a relaxed campus hangout that is also energy efficient. The variable air volume heating and cooling system and exhaust hoods are expected to be at least 12 percent more efficient than a standard system. A leading-edge, real-time exhaust hood system will also reduce energy use in the kitchen. Fluorescent and LED lighting, combined with occupancy sensors in numerous spaces, lower the electricity load of the building as well. Dual flush toilets and low flow faucets, part of the campus standard adopted four years ago, reduce water usage in the facility.
On the South side of the dining hall, a unique solar photovoltaic “awning” covers an outside seating area. This, the third small-scale solar array on the WFU campus will provide up to 10 kilowatts (kW) of power during peak hours. Numerous wide-framed windows also allow natural light to fill the space, reducing electric lighting needs.
The facility’s real-time water and energy footprint can be viewed online or on screens in the building via WFU’s building dashboard system.
All of the dining hall’s pre-consumer and post-consumer waste (e.g. vegetable peels, food scraps, and biodegradable napkins) are fed into a state-of-the-art pulper. The industrial pulper macerates food waste, from banana peels to chicken bones. With water that is recycled through the system, the ground “meal” is transported out of the kitchen into bins that are collected regularly by Gallin’s Family Farm. “The pulper is the first big step towards the campus-wide goal of developing a comprehensive pre and post-consumer composting program,” says Megan Anderson, WFU Waste Reduction and Recycling Manager.
An electronically monitored, direct plumbed waste oil management system filters and pumps fryer oil to a sealed outdoor storage tank with the touch of a button. This feature reduces the possibility of oil spillage and contaminations, maintaining the quality of the oil so it can be efficiently repurposed into biodiesel.
Carefully chosen furnishings contribute to the comfort and sustainability of the space. The project team collaborated with local companies for the construction and sourcing of the majority of the furniture: Bistro ’34 lunch chairs and tables were created in Winston-Salem and High Point, cushioned banquettes were sourced from Newport, TN, Starbucks lounge furniture was built in Hickory, NC, and communal oak tables were cut and milled in Lincolnton, NC. The most local of all of the furnishings, however, are the four benches that line the atrium. The wood for the seats was milled in Durham and comes from oak trees that were removed from the project site; the frames were crafted in Winston-Salem.
To get to the dining hall from points south, visitors cross a unique pedestrian bridge. Although also visually pleasing, the bridge was required in order to preserve several of the heritage trees that surround the atrium of Farrell Hall. A traditional walkway would have resulted in significant root cutting and soil compaction, likely killing the trees.
David Davis, Associate Director of Landscaping Services and member of the WFU Tree Care Plan Committee, commented on the bridge: “I think this project makes a strong statement about the university’s commitment to preserving heritage trees.” The native, low-irrigation landscaping that surrounds the building also reflects a holistic approach to low-impact design and operation.
While all of these features translate into quantifiable energy and water efficiency, they also signify something greater: a comfortable space that supports the wellbeing of its occupants and the environment.
By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator
This coming April, Wake Forest will host our inaugural Champions of Change award ceremony.
In March, we will accept nominations for awards that honor sustainability through:
- resource conservation (energy, water, or waste reduction),
- academics (teaching, research, engaged learning),
- service and social action, and
- bright ideas (innovative ideas that have been or could be implemented).
We look forward to hearing about the work of all the inspiring change agents across campus.
Joel Salatin, a self-described “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-farmer” lived up to every aspect of his reputation in his lecture to the incoming class of 2017, during their fall orientation. The lecture, which was open to all members of the Wake Forest community, was the denouement in the summer academic project on food access and food justice.
Salatin is undoubtedly the most recognizable, and arguably one of the most successful, sustainable farmers in the United States today. His alternative farming practices have drawn him into contentious battles with government regulators and have contributed to his unique views on food justice. He has captured the attention of food activists, environmentalists, libertarians, and government regulators, in equal measure, illustrating why he named his Virginia farm Polyface – the farm of many faces.
“We have become disconnected from our ecological umbilical,” he remarked. Most of us have little idea where our food comes from, how it is grown, and why either of those things matter. We have done our best to insulate ourselves from the consequences of those realities. Our society has divorced itself from food production. Farming is done by people we don’t know and in places we can’t see or smell, and for good reason: industrial food production is an unsightly and hazardous business. We make decisions about how to expend our monthly budgets based on a disconnection from the real cost of food or its importance in our lives. The question of how we can afford a sustainable food system must be turned around to ask how we can afford the system we have now – one that promotes health crises, ecological crises, and ultimately economic crises.
It is this disintegration that has allowed the industrial food system to flourish. With the bluster of a preacher on a pulpit, Salatin exclaimed, “Injustice thrives in secrecy and opaqueness, justice thrives in openness and accountability.” He suggests that transparency and accountability to consumers is the best form of regulation for safety, quality, and price; he proposes that regulation be modified to allow small farms equal market access.
According to Salatin, if we want to change our food system, if we want to see food access in our communities, we must re-integrate our food system. Food production must be localized and consumers must make the sometimes difficult choice to purchase locally and seasonally grown food. He challenged students to imagine the university covered with an edible landscape, to substitute meal-plan reliance with whole foods preparation, and to imagine adjusting the academic calendar to coincide with seasons of peak local food production.
Salatin reiterated again and again that our human cleverness – our desire to outrun nature– is getting us into trouble. He urges us to exercise more humility and less hubris. He suggests that personal responsibility is the starting point for change – that each of us must take up what Dr. Miles Silman, director of the WFU Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, described as the “hard and happy labor of change,” during his introduction to the lecture.
As a final take-away, Salatin emphasized the need to start somewhere and not be afraid of failure. He challenged the old saying that anything worth doing is worth doing right by suggesting that, “anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly first!”
By Jamie Sims, Campus Garden Intern
Summer isn’t necessarily a vacation for Wake Forest students. From late May to early August, The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest, a student-run service organization, maintains full operations, serving 154 meals per week to underserved members of the Winston-Salem community. Unlike during the spring and fall, when Campus Kitchen is run by a six-member executive board and a 24-member leadership team, during the summer three interns are at the helm of one of Wake Forest’s flagship service organizations.
The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University is an affiliate of the Campus Kitchens Project, a national organization dedicated to fighting hunger and reducing waste through food recycling programs on college campuses. The Campus Kitchen model takes surplus prepared (but never served) meals from campus dining facilities and distributes these meals to partner agencies serving local communities. In addition to this basic model, the Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University partners with the Fresh Market, rescuing edible produce and baked goods and delivering the food in bulk to agencies serving populations with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University also partners with the Campus Garden, incorporating fresh, campus-grown produce into balanced meals.
Brittany Forniotis (’15), David Hale (’15), John Iskander (’16), and Monica Hedge (’14) make up the summer 2013 team of Campus Kitchen interns. Brittany, who is also spending her summer conducting original research on American slave narratives, splits five cooking shifts and five food delivery shifts with David, a premedical student who is also currently conducting summer research. John serves as the Fresh Market intern, running five food rescue shifts per week and researching the feasibility of food trucks as a means of increasing access to nutritious food. Monica will replace Brittany as one of the cooking and delivery interns for the second half of the summer.
According to the Campus Kitchens Project’s national guidelines, all meals must include a protein, a vegetable, a starch, and a dessert. Because there are fewer students on campus during the summer, the Fresh Food Company has less surplus food to donate to Campus Kitchen, so the interns must creatively combine resources to meet the organization’s standards. Brittany, who plans many of the summer menus, relies heavily on produce grown in the WFU Campus Garden. Most recently, she and summer volunteers prepared a huge salad with roasted beets, greens, and beet greens from the Campus Garden.
David, who served the salad at the SECU Family House, an agency providing housing for the families of patients who travel to Winston-Salem for medical treatment, reports “Everyone is always really happy when I say we grew these beets in our Campus Garden…they were so impressed that it was full circle, that we are using what we have and being sustainable.”
Partner agencies rely on Campus Kitchen to stay open during the summer, but David explains that the summer also provides an opportunity to reach new volunteers. He says “it is also important for us to educate volunteers, whether they are at a summer camp here, faculty and staff, or just anyone in the Winston-Salem area, to realize that [food insecurity] is an important issue in our region that many people don’t know about.” He also explains that bringing new volunteers into Campus Kitchen “is really about removing the stigma from certain areas [of Winston-Salem] or the stereotypes someone might associate with a particular type of person.”
In the context of cooking shifts, Brittany takes care to talk to volunteers about “where the food is going, what sort of people are receiving the food, and what sort of health problems they might have.” She explains the intentional choices she makes based on the population being served, such as sending reduced dessert portions and low-salt meals to senior housing where many residents suffer from diabetes and hypertension.
In the context of delivery shifts, David explains the goal of a particular partner agency and how food from Campus Kitchen fits into that goal. For instance, at Prodigals Community, a faith-based drug rehabilitation facility, David explains to volunteers how the Sunday night meal provided by Campus Kitchen allows Prodigals to allocate funds towards programs that facilitate residents’ recovery.
When asked what the Campus Kitchen needs from the Wake Forest community this summer, the interns offer a single emphatic answer: volunteers. David says “We need people who are willing to be flexible, to try something new…to go out of their comfort zone, to get out of the Wake Forest bubble and realize that these places exist in Winston-Salem.”
To volunteer for Campus Kitchen, contact Brittany Forniotis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
On September 17, Wake Forest Dining hosted the fall 2012 Nutrition Fair. The fair has been a semi-annual event, some of them coinciding with campus Earth Day celebrations in the past two years. Learning more about the issues surrounding personal health and wellbeing can often provide individuals with a window of understanding into the wellbeing of the larger campus ecosystem. This concept, sometimes referred to as environmental wellbeing, is one of the pillars of the new campus-wide wellbeing initiative.
This semester’s event was held in front of the Fresh Food Co. and was very well-attended despite a light drizzle. The fair included several tented booths representing an array of local vendors and a diverse collection of groups on campus. There was plenty to sample.
Here’s a brief look at some of the interests represented:
- Campus Nutritionist, Beth Audie, offered a “Wheel of Nutrition.” Participants could spin the wheel for a chance to win a variety of free and, of course, nutritious foods available for purchase on campus.
- Reynolda Farm Market, a small, locally owned store-front market offered local produce, locally finished products, and preserved goods for sale. They also offered samples of muscadines, giving several students their first introduction to these southeastern native grapes.
- The Wake Forest Campus Garden brought samples of heirloom tomatoes and fresh salsa made on site.
- Eco Reps, the campus peer-to-peer educators for sustainability, engaged faculty, staff, and students with a quiz about the impacts of our choices on regional food systems and the health and wellbeing of our community.
- The campus representative for Fresh Point, ARAMARK’s primary produce distributor, educated attendees about the supply chain for campus dining. He offered samples of several popular recipes, including a delicious and nutritious quinoa dish.
In May 2011, agriculturalist-entrepreneurs Pete Gallins and cousin Rucker Sewell began an innovative program in Winston-Salem. The pair began collecting food waste from local businesses and restaurants to compost at the nearby Gallins Family Farm. In the fall of 2011, the university got on board by diverting the Pit’s pre-consumer food waste (food scraps that never leave the kitchen, like potato peels) from local landfills and redirecting them into the Gallins composting facility.
According to Megan Anderson, the manager of Waste Reduction, Recycling, & Surplus at the university, “We have reduced our waste pick-ups by one-third at the Reynolda trash compactor that services the Pit.” This reduction in pick-ups equates to economic savings by way of lowered waste-handling costs and reduced “tipping fees,” levied on trash processed at the landfill.
The reduction in landfill pick-ups has also lessened social and environmental costs associated with waste management. Ms. Anderson told us that rerouting the, “wet, heavy, smelly, messy food waste,” from the Reynolda trash compactor helped eliminate the all-too-familiar odor that attracted pests while repelling passersby.
The program also reduces landfill impacts, including the generation of methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas. Reduced hauls to the landfill also equate to fuel savings and reduced vehicle exhaust. Through the composting process, Gallins is able to accelerate the conversion of the food scraps to a valuable nutrient-rich soil amendment, the final product of the composting process.
The university’s nascent composting program came full circle this summer when we returned several bags of the compost, marketed as “Carolina Dynamite,” to our Wake Forest campus garden. The compost is produced with the area’s iron-rich soil in mind.
The current boundaries of the composting program are under evaluation for expansion by Ms. Anderson and the countless others involved with the project. She shared plans to begin, collecting from Starbucks and other dining venues on campus. “We would also like to eventually [incorporate] post-consumer food waste collection.” Although we hope that those who eat on campus take only what they intend to eat, there are bound to be scraps and peels that are not consumed. A post-consumer collection program would even allow us to compost paper napkins, creating possibilities for zero-landfill meals at the Fresh Food Company.
By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern