Concord Academy dining offers a variety of dining selections daily to accommodate students’ needs. We realize every person has different preferences, and we strive to provide every student with choices that are both healthy and enjoyable.
Over my 14 years here at CA, and another 20 years in dining services, I have seen these choices change and expand. The recent trend is toward a preference for more organic, local, and sustainable sourcing and food options. While that can be at times financially challenging, we recognize both the significant interest and the benefits, and we are pursuing more options in this direction.
On behalf of the entire dining team, I would like to share with you some of the ongoing and recent improvements to the dining hall on this topic and how CA’s Dining Services Team is Embracing Sustainability.
Food systems can sometimes be overlooked when it comes to assessing our impact on the planet, but they’re the focus of one of three working groups established by Concord Academy’sSustainability Plan, which the school adopted in 2019.
At CA,Sodexo, the school’s dining services provider, is using plant-based recipes from theHumane Societyand offering a variety of vegetarian and vegan options at lunch and dinner and identifying them visibly on menu signage. The dining hall purchases local and organic vegetables fromCosta Produce, which buys directly and indirectly from 40 to 50 farms , ranging in size from just a few acres to several hundred, and grower co-ops spread throughout New England.Nashoba Brook Bakerysupplies local, fresh breads from just a few miles away. And a beverage machine fromBevi—Eliza Becton ’02 is the company’s co-founder and head of product—dispenses a variety of flavored still and sparkling water.
Meat-based offerings are also planned with sustainability in mind. The dining hall purchases pork fromClark Farmin Carlisle, Mass., which has been in agricultural production since the 1700s. It’s also a source of certified organic vegetables and berries for CA. On weekends, CA student groups visit the farm and bring back ingredients that are featured in the dining hall at Sunday dinners. Fish is purchased throughRed’s Best Fish, headquartered on the historic Boston Fish Pier. Red’s Best aggregates catches from local coastal communities, networking small boats and tracking catches from each fishing vessel—sustaining the livelihoods of fishermen while also sustaining fisheries for harvest.
In addition to promoting plant-based, vegan, and local meal options, Concord Academy’s dining hall has also committed to reducing food waste. Recently, the dining hall launchedLean Path, a program that prevents on average 50% of wasted food. Using the program, the dining hall team can rapidly and easily capture food waste data, giving clear insights into what is being wasted in the kitchen and why. “With this new understanding, our team can implement targeted operational and behavioral changes to help end avoidable food waste,” Penders says, “at the same time we improve our kitchen's efficiency.”
The dining hall has also partnered withRescuing Leftover Cuisine. To date, the CA kitchens have donated 1547 pounds of food, creating 1306 meals served to families experiencing food insecurity. Any additional food waste and remaining food scraps are collected in the dining hall for compost, which is picked up by Black Earth Compost. Compostable waste is diverted from a landfill and brought to a local farm where it naturally breaks down into reusable, rich, black compost. The dining hall composts about a ton of material a month. Residents and boarding houses have also begun to compost.
CA’s dining services team continually evaluates the sustainability measures it has adopted, and this work is sustained in partnership with the CA community, including the CA Environmental Sustainability Task Force and Student Food Committees, which collaborate on sharing visions for greater sustainability and setting specific goals for CA’s dining options.
We have partnered with Black Earth Compost and have returned over 51,000 lbs of waste to the soil between! For more information on Black Earth Compost click the logo!
On campus we recycle the following products: cardboard, glass, aluminum, paper, plastic.
Xprss Nap Dispensers save energy and waste. The napkins are made of 100% recycled paper and the dispenser will encourage customers to take (and waste) fewer napkins. Energy is saved because less power is used to recycle paper products than to create them from virgin material.
We are a trayless campus. Customers without trays typically waste less food and beverages. It is also a healthier approach to eating, as we all know that at times our eyes are bigger than our stomach. Trayless dining also reduces the amount of water and detergents needed to wash trays - and saves energy too!
APEX combines technology and products designed to save water and energy, minimize the impact of products on the environment, and has a built-in method of measuring results. The APEX management approach uses a tablet PC and wireless technology to communicate with the system’s controller to download, process and analyze data to establish each foodservice operation’s “rack-to-guest ratio.” By monitoring and improving this ratio, the system helps reduce the amount of water and energy used at each facility, and improve total operational efficiency.