Cam Schauf: dining sustainability champion

Director of Campus Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations Cam Schauf will be retiring in August, ending a lifelong career in college and university food service, including the past 18 years at the University of Rochester. Throughout his nearly two decades at the University, Cam has brought a passion for sustainability to Campus Dining and has worked to improve it by engaging with students, creating Dining Team Green, and building a strong management team.

When Schauf first started at the University, there was no standardized sustainability plan for Dining or the University at large. “Any initiatives we started or agreed to were student-driven,” Schauf noted. “The impetus was often wanting to bring students into the program and get them involved. So, when students came to us with an idea we would look at it and examine whether it was something we thought we could accomplish and if so, what potential concerns there were and then make a decision based on that. We were responding to students in a positive way, but we weren’t really tracking what we were doing.”

Soon after his arrival, Dining developed a mission statement for the department that included sustainability and created four pillars of sustainability for them to build on: local foods, responsible purchasing, waste reduction, and education.

Innovative Projects

Schauf’s commitment to student engagement led to the hiring of the first Dining Team Green student worker in 2005. Schauf stated he hired her because “I knew that sustainability for us had to be an ongoing thing that we needed to be looking at and being better every day…. I needed someone to be noisy but in a respectful way. Someone who would push and add their own ideas and narratives to the matter.” By the time she graduated, Dining Team Green had expanded to five total students, with her as the manager. Dining Team Green now consists of seven total students: two sustainability managers, two sustainability coordinators, and three marketing coordinators. Dining Team Green continues to advocate for sustainability in Dining through the creation of new initiatives and continuous marketing of new and old sustainability practices across River Campus.

Schauf cited the reusable mug program as one of his favorite ideas to come from Dining Team Green.  The program, which offers a discount to those who bring their own mug, spans multiple generations of team members and has been highly successful as it has evolved over time. The idea was first thought of by the original Dining Team Green, who created a fun advertising campaign to promote the new program. They had student leaders, staff and faculty members pose for a photo with their own personal mugs and hung the photos around campus. Schauf noted that the posters helped increase awareness of Dining and their programs. A later generation of Dining Team Green came up with a punch card coupon where if someone used a reusable mug ten times, they would get a free pastry. More recently, the team partnered with Tapingo (now owned by Grubhub) to allow users to select a reusable mug option and skip the line when they arrive. Tapingo found this program to be so successful that they implemented it at other colleges and universities as well.

On a larger scale, Schauf stated, “I’m really proud of the management team we’ve hired and developed on this campus. Without this fantastic team many of the things we achieved would not have been possible.” He’s proud of how they’ve always worked to get students involved in the decision making process and involved in many aspects of Dining on campus. He’s also enjoyed working with Headwater Food Hub and Autumn’s Harvest Farm. Autumn’s Harvest Farm practices regenerative agriculture and provides the University with local pork, beef, and eggs. Schauf has visited Autumn Harvest every year for the past four years Dining has partnered with them. He said, “It’s great to see the impact of our buying on their ability to grow the farm and expand on what they were doing before. It really paints a wonderful picture of why this concentration on regenerative agriculture and supporting local businesses is so important.”

In 2019, the Seneca Park Zoo Society awarded Schauf its individual Environmental Innovation Award for his commitment to sustainability at the University. The previous year, his sustainable actions at Dining won the gold award in the Procurement Practices category of the National Association of College and University Food Services Sustainability Awards.

Future Plans

As his final large-scale contribution, Schauf is the co-lead, along with Sustainability Coordinator Amy Kadrie, on the creation of a University-wide sustainability plan. He has acted as a liaison between the various groups (working groups, advisory board, and core team) to help drive the process forward to make sure the team stays on target to present the draft plan to the President and Provost this summer. “We’re really happy to have this [plan] because it gives the institution the framework on which to truly move forward and build. There have been a lot of great things happening at the University for lots of years in lots of different areas that are great things to point to under the wide umbrella of sustainability but it has really been driven by the individual departments and not a framework that has been supported by the entire institution,” Schauf stated.

Within Dining, there are plans to continue working on ways to eventually eliminate single-use plastics. The department has successfully done this in Connections and now want to expand to the rest of Dining operations one at a time. Schauf stated, “We want to develop plans for our operations eventually becoming zero waste,” adding that it will be easier in Douglass and Danforth. Dining also plans to increase their local food and beverage spending which currently stands at roughly 60%. They also want to shrink their purchasing radius to businesses within a 150-mile radius in the future but that will require a lot of business growth and potential University support. As it stands, there is not a lot of fresh food processing in New York State. However, Dining has a plan to purchase frozen fruits and vegetables through Headwater Food Hub to extend the season for local produce.

Associate Director of Auxiliary Operations Todd Ferrin will become interim Director of Campus Dining Services & Auxiliary Operations effective August 1. Schauf noted, “We have a fantastic team leading our dining program and I feel very good that I’m leaving the program in very good hands. I’ll truly miss more than anything else my interactions with students and working with them on building the program that we have so far.”

When asked about his retirement plans Schauf laughed and said “I have 8 grandchildren. Do I need to say anything else?”

 

Written by Sarah Woodams ‘24(T5)

Pictured Above: Cam Schauf (third from the left) talks with staff and students at the Harvest Table dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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