To start, a corny joke: It’s time for me to think outside the box… the lunch box! Ok, now that that’s off my chest, let’s talk about catering. Meliora Catering is the University of Rochester’s catering service. While not often experienced by the student body (something Catering is painfully aware of), catering plays a serious role in the “adult” world. That is, all the people running around running this school. This is personal speculation, but my impression is that a large portion of their business comes from lunch meetings.
Anyway, this article isn’t meant to be a description of Catering. I wanted to talk about some of the sustainability initiatives in Catering. In theory, Catering can be extremely sustainable, but as a service provider, it is to some extent dependent on what the customer does. An example. Were a customer to ask for silverware, glasses, cloth napkins, etc. That would all be possible, though more expensive. That said, were a customer to ask for disposables, Catering would oblige. Against financial odds, however, silverware lunches are actually quite popular. Let’s pretend that’s because of an environmental conscience.
Moving on. Catering has also been working on shifting its box lunch strategy. The menu now includes local and organic options. Terrific, but perhaps even more exciting is the use of EcoClamshells. If you are a student at Eastman, you may have seen some promotional materials regarding EcoClamshells, or you may even own one! The EcoClamshell is a reusable plastic to-go container. Catering is now selling the it for $4.25 per container. You may ask, why pay for something that does what a disposable container would do for free? Once again, I appeal to your conscience, but I’ll also appeal to your bank account. Every 11th catered meal is free when you use an EcoClamshell. That’s a serious deal. Granted, you have to be a frequent user to reap the benefits, but if you are, those benefits are nontrivial.
Ok, last point. Catering also offers the Green Guide to Catering! This is particularly exciting because I helped design it! So you know it’s long winded and circumlocutional. I kid. It’s great. It lays out Catering’s offerings categorized by environmental impact. So, if you’re ordering a lunch, you can look at the right-most column and pick your sustainable options with ease. Nice.
Ok, so that’s not bad. In fact, I think it’s pretty decent. But it’s not perfect. If you have a way to improve Catering, I encourage you to leave your idea in the comments. Or, even better, let Catering know. They’re friendly folks, it’s ok. Their number is 585-275-7687.