Sustainability and Environmental Initiatives

Sewanee Dining Sustainability

With a splendid 13,000 acre campus it should be no surprise that Sewanee students and the university at large are concerned with issues of sustainability and environmental stewardship. As the largest food service in the region, Sewanee Dining too, embraces sustainability as a core component of its mission and an important consideration in how it approaches its operations and services. Four principles guide Sewanee Dining’s sustainability efforts:

  • To menu and purchase seasonal and local ingredients to the full extent possible, including developing collaborations and partnerships with producers that maximize the economic benefit of available resources.
  • Prepare food efficiently and with care to maximize appeal to customers, minimize production waste, and wisely use gas, electricity and water resources.
  • Community collaboration in the gathering and sharing of all available data and information to educate ourselves and our patrons to respectively prepare and consume responsible quantities of food.
  • What waste that we do produce should be, through composting and other reclamation efforts, safely returned to the earth to minimize their environmental footprint and support local food production into the future.

Sewanee Dining is uniquely positioned to provide leadership and support to sustainability efforts in several important areas. From our sourcing strategies to energy and waste reduction efforts, environmental stewardship is a core value in Sewanee Dining and an ever-present consideration in everything we do.


Sewanee Dining is proud to be working with Team Compost, a Sewanee student composting initiative. Daily, students collect and weigh the food waste at McClurg and provide this feedback to Sewanee Dining to help adjust food production and reduce food waste. Our goal with composting is two fold, to reduce food waste generally and to divert from landfills what waste we do produce. During the academic year thousands of pounds of compost are diverted from landfills through Team Compost each month. To best ensure that the food waste we produce in the kitchen and from customers is uncontaminated by non-compostable materials, all compost separation from the waste stream will be handled by Sewanee Dining staff this Advent Semester. Customers will no longer separate waste themselves outside the tray return, but rather dining employees, perhaps some of them Sewanee students, will be responsible for separating compostable materials from trash. The final product of this compost will be used for applications on the Domain, including in the Sewanee Student Organic Garden, whose produce will be returned to McClurg.

Local Food Use

Sewanee recently purchased 20 steer to research sustainable beef production and burn methods of cattle grazing. While the cattle grow on the Cheston Farm, so does the anticipation here at Sewanee Dining. The thought of University raised, grass-fed beef that is both healthy and environmentally friendly makes our mouths water. Our grass fed beef is all-natural and never given growth hormones or antibiotics. Humanely treated, these cattle are given plenty of room for grazing, playing, and living. The less cattle that are placed in feed-lots the better, not only for them, but the environment and humans.

Sewanee Dining has also taken another step in sustainability by supporting local farmers. Partnering for many of its local food purchases with the South Cumberland Food Hub, Sewanee Dining will be dramatically increasing its use of locally grown and produced foods. We are also using the Student Organic Garden at the University Farm, which has recently been prepared for a larger scale production and will bring new campus grown foods to Sewanee Dining. The garden will be maintained using Best Management Practices (BMPs), which will help to maintain the soil. By maintaining the soil, including utilizing compost from Sewanee Dining food waste, we can reduce erosion, water pollution, and loss of nutrient levels. These and other practices mean that the Student Organic Garden can play a larger role on campus.                        


Though trays are available on a more limited basis, McClurg went essentially tray-less in 2008 and has continued to reap the benefits of decreased energy and water consumption from this move. One additional benefit typically associated with tray-less service is less food waste. This is due to customers making multiple trips to the servery area based on the appetite of their stomachs, and not their eyes.

As we continue to grow and develop so too will our strategies in increased sustainability, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestion please contact us