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Dining Services Claims Low Rating Due to Inaccurate Data

Preston  MacLean ’20, Staff Writer

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Dickinson Dining Services received the lowest rating of any category according to a recent sustainability report. Director of Dining Services Errol Huffman claimed the ranking included incorrect information about Dining Services’ operations.

The report, written by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), gave Dining Services a 2.49/7 rating in the operations category. The report also included ratings on academics, engagement and operations, among others.

Huffman stated that part of the misinformation in the report came from the fact that the ranking did not account for local orchards or farms that are supplied by distributors.

“I was a little confused,” he said. “I don’t know if there was a disconnect between the data that we provided and how the final entry went in.” The scorecard reported that Dickinson dining services sourced 3.6 percent of food locally. Overall, Huffman says, 15-20 percent of all food purchased by the college is local.

Huffman also noted that the report, made in 2016, used data from 2015. He claimed Dining Services has since made progress towards several more sustainable practices.

For example, there has been an effort to buy more local food. Huffman says that all dairy, accounting for 1.6 percent of overall food purchases, is purchased locally, and that another 1.6 percent of food purchases come from the College Farm.

Huffman says there has also been a concerted effort to reduce waste and “divert as much as we can away from the landfills.” He says he began using a program called Food Service Suite (FSS), by a company called Cbord, which led to a great reduction in food waste in both pre- and post-consumer. He says that 25 percent of food waste is pre-consumer; the trimmings and parts of food not suitable for consumption in addition to anything that happens to be burned.

Huffman says his department and himself work with Dickinson’s Center for Sustainability Education (CSE) to make better practices to become more sustainable.

He says the college collects approximately 9-20 buckets of compost material weighing 60 to 65 pounds each per day. Additionally, Huffman claims the Salvation Army food kitchen picks up leftovers once a week, and that almost no food that is good for consumption is disposed of. Huffman also states that while he does not have figures on how much plastic waste is disposed of, the college purchased approximately 8,000 pounds of plastic during the spring 2017 semester, approximately 3,900 pounds of which were clear plastic cups. This is the largest plastic purchase the school makes.

Huffman maintained however that the report only somewhat affects the operations of dining services. He his department tries to make decisions based off “what the community wants and needs” and not “a scorecard on a website.” Going forward, he says he wants to work closely with Center for Sustainable Education to encourage better use of the recycling and composting systems already in place.

Dickinson received the highest ranking on its sustainability research, including academic research, support for and access to research with a score of 17.71/18.

The report can be accessed on AASHE’s website at stars.aashe.org.

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Dining Services Claims Low Rating Due to Inaccurate Data