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Sustainable food in action at the University of Cambridge!

The University Catering Service (UCS) have taken a lead on sustainable food issues at the University through a Sustainable Food Policy. However there are many other catering outlets at the University of Cambridge which don't fall under the control of the UCS, as well as the 31 Colleges at Cambridge which operate separately from the University. Many University departments are also taking action on sustainable food issues. Here, we round up some of the action which is taking place across the University of Cambridge. 

Christ's College

Christ's College have undertaken a number of sustainable food initiatives, which include:

  • Two days of vegan cookery classes working with the Humane Society & SRA. These are being held at Magdalene College - both days sold out within 24 hours!
  • Christ’s held an all-vegetarian formal hall and a vegan / pescatarian formal in early 2017.
  • The College are continuing with 'Green Mondays' and also showing the low carbon meal on our cafeteria meals with a blue footprint.
  • the College are working towards the Green Impact awards for the first time .
  • Leep cups are available in the coffee shop.

Madingley Hall / ICE

The Institute of Continuing Education and Madingley Hall have been doing much to champion sustainable food and green issues over the past few years, including a Sustainable Food Policy which was launched in 2014. This is due to be reviewed again shortly and will include sections on Palm Oil.

A few other highlights from the Institute's work are:

  • Green Impact Gold Award.
  • Sustainable Restaurants Association 3 Star Rating.
  • Signatory on Sustainable Food City Bid.
  • Signatory on Sustainable Fish City Bid.
  • Vegan and Vegetarian options available daily.
  • Low Carbon meals available daily.
  • Host of Local Food Fair in August 2016 highlighting local street food suppliers.
  • Working towards Soil Association Accreditation.

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

At CISL, the Green Impact team has done much work to gain a 'Gold' Green Impact award improving their environmental performance in the workplace significantly. They then determined that one of the big environmental impacts that the department had was its use purchase of food, particularly for events. The institute therefore initiated a ‘Sustainable Food At Work’ project which aimed to use food, and the interaction with food topics within the department, as a means of promoting sustainability. Work within this project included reinvigorating the departmental vegetable patch by surveying staff and recruiting 21 staff volunteers to work on the garden, reviewing internal food and beverage purchasing to ensure the use of 100% Fairtrade and organic products, drafting new sustainability guidance for staff booking catering at external events, and drafting guidance for external suppliers. You can download copies of their guidance here.

St John's College

St John's College have adapted their menus for the Buttery Dining Room, Formal Hall and Fellows to show the vegetarian dish first, above the meat dishes. In the Buttery dining room the vegetarian dish is located first on the counter. The College also have an insect chef coming in to work alongside the College's chefs, and will be looking at making some menu dishes from insects. The College are also using plant-based cleaning chemicals, and are the first University College in England to use this product.

Clare College

Clare College ran a 'Sustainable May Ball' in 2016. You can read more here.

Cambridge Trust

The Cambridge Commonwealth European & International Trust are a Silver 'Green Impact' award winning team who work hard to address their environmental impact. During 'Spotlight on Food Month' the team hosted a visit by a member of Cambridge Sustainable Food to enlighten staff on a range of sustainable food issues. The team have also looked at utilising the small roof garden on their office. As well as a growbag for tomatoes and strawberries, there are now pots of salad leaves and broad beans, ready for staff to eat when the vegetables can be harvested. There is no direct water supply to the roof garden, but a collection of unwanted wastepaper bins have been roped in as water collectors! It is also paying off in terms of supporting wildlife - decorative plants such lavender and geraniums have been visited by bees (and even the odd slug or two has made an appearance - not such welcome visitors!). You can read more about this story on their website.

Have a story to share with us?

If you are a member of staff or student at the University with more to add to this page, feel free to get in touch.