Sustainability in the canteen
What we at Studierendenwerk Darmstadt understand by sustainable catering (15.04.2021)
As broad as the understanding of sustainability is, our idea of sustainable catering is also very multifaceted. For our fundamental goals, which we established, we involvement our students and their perspective on this topic. To this end, we conducted an online survey and a focus group workshop in 2018. The results of that, you will find here. We take the wishes and ideas of our guests very seriously, because only together, we are able to achieve the goals of sustainable development in general and environmentally and socially responsible nutrition in particular.
In the following, we present the elementary aspects of sustainable catering and their importance for us.
1. Organically produced products
• Comply at least with the EU Organic Farming Regulation.
• No use of pesticides that are harmful to humans and the environment.
• Contribute to the preservation of biodiversity.
• Do not have a negative impact on the climate.
• Promote animal welfare through more species-appropriate husbandry.
• Preserve soil fertility and protect rare earths by not using industrially produced fertilisers.
2. Regionally produced products
• We define products as regional if they are produced and grown within a maximum radius of 100 km around Darmstadt.
• The regions bordering on southern Hesse - Wetterau, Taunus, Rheinhessen, Main-Franken, Baden, Kurpfalz, Südpfalz - thus fall under the 100 km rule.
3. Regional suppliers
• Located in the geographically defined areas, but do not always process regional products for the STW, but may also process products from overseas or from regions further than 100 km away. In some cases, they only supply as traders. (Examples: the company Maus for fruit and vegetables or our major supplier Transgourmet).
• Create regional benefit.
4. Meat: focus on animal welfare
The Studierendenwerk is committed to gradually achieving a higher standard in the rearing and keeping conditions of animals when purchasing meat. We do this either by purchasing meat with organic certification or by increasing the requirements for specific animal husbandry criteria.
We don`t define a general minimum standard for all types of meat, as this would make regional procurement impossible in some cases.
5. Proportion of meat-containing and meat-free dishes in the overall menu
Gastronomy should increasingly offer meat dishes in higher quality (organic, species-appropriate animal husbandry). Their cooking losses are noticeably lower, which reduces the amount of meat required per portion.
We are pursuing the goal of further increasing the proportion of attractive vegan and vegetarian dishes on offer. Meat dishes, however, will continue to be offered on a daily basis according to demand.
6. Fair trade goods
Every year, we check the products used in the Studierendenwerk from so called “risk countries” (countries which have problems to fulfil social standards-> more information can be found here) for possible conversion to FairTrade quality. Where possible, we put this into practice in combination with organic products.
7. Minimise overall food waste
The consideration of AI in the area of production planning supports the employees in avoiding surpluses in processing. To this end, the software incorporates various factors such as weather, semester breaks and historical sales figures into the quantity calculation in order to achieve the most demand-oriented portion numbers possible. For our guests, we introduced the "too-good-for-the-bin plate" at the end of 2020: a discounted offer of dishes shortly before the dining halls close.
We further plan university-catering measures in this context for 2021 but you will already find the following implementations:
• Training of the cooks
• Revision of recipes
• Actively informing guests about the possibility of smaller portions
8. Keeping the degree of convenience as low as possible
• Convenience is not avoidable for all products due to logistical processes (e.g. Tk vegetables).
• Convenience products cannot be avoided in some cases, e.g. due to given factors such as the size and equipment of the kitchens.
• For the majority of products used, we take care to ensure that the degree of convenience is as low as possible. In 2020, for example, we switched from ready-bought organic pasta to organic pasta we produce ourselves.