Sustainability and Resiliency

Food and Nutrition

Brown continues to enhance its support for local farmers and sustainably-sourced foods.

Brown Dining Services (BDS) works to integrate sustainable principles in every aspect of their operation. Dining’s goal is to meet the needs of of the campus community today without compromising the needs of future generations.

BDS began a partnership with the Bon Appetit Management Company (BAMCO) in 2016. BAMCO chefs and personnel work alongside BDS staff in all aspects of dining operations including vendor and food sourcing, menu planning, and marketing, integrating BAMCO’s robust sustainability principles into Brown's operations wherever feasible. Over 70% of Brown’s purchases meet these strict sustainability criteria.

BDS implemented a composting program in all kitchens at Brown, has reduced its GHG and nutrient impact by reducing red meat purchases, and increased its local partnerships which decrease emissions from transportation.

Brown actively supports its local community by sourcing food products from local farms and vendors.

Averting the Landfill and Reducing Food Waste

All dining facilities at Brown compost food scraps and back-of-house items. This means that staff are composting everything they can from the kitchens and prep areas. Participation in composting is also available to diners at the Sharpe Refectory.

The University partners with The ReMix Organics Company and Recycleworks to turn this organic material into compost. Annually, Brown composts an average of 513 tons.

How to compost

In the spring of 2010, BDS implemented Eco To-Go, a reusable takeout container program. Besides offering the container, BDS also worked to educate students about landfill waste and the benefits of re-use.

BDS is now partnering with the Office of Sustainability to assess the program and look for ways to improve and increase membership.

Beyond the Bottle participants with table full of red Brown University branded reusable bottles
Beyond the Bottle volunteers handing out water bottles at Commencement.
Beyond the Bottle is a student initiative started in February 2008 with the goal of reducing the supply and demand of bottled water at Brown. As a result of their efforts, bottled water purchases by Dining Services have reduced by nearly 100%.

The initiative has decreased Brown’s plastic demand and spurred the inclusion of a building standard that requires the inclusion of water filling stations.

The After the Harvest initiative began during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in 2005. BDS has successfully coordinated efforts to both reduce food waste and reroute overproduced food appropriate for donation to local hunger relief programs.

Since the program’s inception, BDS has donated hundreds of thousands of pounds of food to local organizations including The Rhode Island Community Food Bank and City Year.

Sharpe Refectory

In recent years, Brown has worked to revamp the infrastructure and equipment in Brown’s main dining hall in order to provide great quality food in an efficient and sustainable manner. Recent renovations revamped include:

  • A new waste station layout that has improved composting and recycling on the part of students. 
  • A new air conditioning system that provides efficient comfort.
  • Highly efficient dishwashers that save 1.25 million gallons of water each year.

The success of Sharpe’s transformation largely rests on collaboration across administrative units and in consultation with students. The experience of Sharpe can serve as an example of successful collaboration resulting in real change.

Water Conservation

Trayless dining iconTrayless Dining

Brown Dining has committed to trayless dining in its main dining facility, Sharpe Refectory. Trayless dining conserves one-third to a half gallon of heated water per person by eliminating the need to wash those trays. It also reduces the energy that would be used to heat the water and detergents used to wash trays. Studies suggest that the elimination of trays may also reduce food waste because people take fewer items without them.