George Mason University is committed to supporting agriculture and sustainable food systems in Virginia. In collaboration with UVA, VT, and JMU, Mason has received funding from 4va – to organize a group of stakeholders to address food systems issues. This group consists of faculty, staff, administrators, students, food service professionals, local farmers, etc. at each respective university. The combined purchasing power of the dining programs at these four universities has the potential to drive immense positive change. The group reached a consensus to act on this potential by first developing an immersive graduate level course – the Virginia Food Systems Leadership Institute that will allow students to work within each university’s dining program to implement a sustainability solution of their choosing.
Students have always been at the forefront of social movements, and fighting for a better food system is no exception. Like students at colleges and universities nationwide, Mason students work with The Real Food Challenge (RFC) for guidance and access to resources that effectively increase sustainable food sourcing and address other food systems issues. A number of Sodexo Universities use the Real Food Calculator to track and increase the amount of “real” food on campus, according to rigorous standards outlined by RFC.
Mason Dining has proudly partnered with the Honeybee Initiative (HBI) to sell honey from bees on campus (and nearby bees that are part of Mason’s HBI program). Show your support – buy some HBI honey at JC Express convenience store in the Johnson Center.
Dining and the Office of Sustainability work together on numerous initiatives throughout the year. Through our partnership at the President’s Park Greenhouse, we are able to source food grown on campus and educate the community about local foods. By helping Dining to report on local food purchasing and implement composting, the OOS has been instrumental to the success of our sustainability program. Each April, we host a celebration of sustainable foods and join together to promote sustainable food systems at Mason – be on the lookout for this year’s Sustainable Foods Day celebration!
Through a unique two-day culinary training program called “Food Forward,” an HSUS team works in our kitchens with our chefs and managers to promote simple and delicious ways to diversify and expand vegan offerings in the resident dining halls. We hosted the team in the summer of 2016 and look forward to having them return this summer with fresh tips and tricks for our vegan/vegetarian program.