Commons Celebrates Earth Week

In recognition of the 40th anniversary of Earth Week, Paresky Commons hosted numerous sustainable dining events and made several noticeable changes in the dining menu throughout this week. Michael Giampa, Director and Sustainability Coordinator of Food Service, said, “The Paresky Commons staff members are always looking for ways to improve food service in a more green and sustainable way.” Earth Week is a globally celebrated week designed to raise environmental awareness that began in 1970. “From small changes like the plant decorations in Commons to major events such as the low impact barbecue cookout, we hope to celebrate Earth Week in a meaningful way,” Giampa said. Commons hosted filmmakers Curt Ellis and Ian Cheny, who discussed their most recent film project, ‘Truck Farm’ on Tuesday. The documentary shows Ellis and Cheny’s attempt to grow food on the back of a pick-up truck. Complementing the exhibition of the mobile garden, Commons hosted a low-impact cookout serving grass-fed beef burgers. Brandon Mancilla ’12 said, “I thought the idea of having the cookout with the display of the truck farm outside of the dining hall was brilliant. It definitely drew attention from the students and it was nice to see the efforts being made by the Commons staff to increase awareness regarding sustainability.” Paresky Commons celebrated Earth Day by giving out organic and recyclable products such as t-shirts, mugs and bags to students and faculty on Thursday. Throughout the last two weeks, Commons has also brought several local vendors and current suppliers of the dining service to campus. They hope to advertise and provide students and faculty with general information on the products being supplied to Commons. Giampa said, “One of our biggest sustainability goals this year is to improve our relationship with the local vendors. Currently, thirty percent of our food is from local vendors and we have been trying to increase that by five percent every year.” Nikhil Dixit ’12 said, “I think it is important for students and faculty to know where the food we eat is coming from, and it was nice to be able to talk to local vendors about their products and try their samples.” Local vendors have sponsored and donated recent Commons menus such as the Caesar salad bar, grass-fed beef burgers, vegetable juice station and ice cream bar, according to Giampa. Josh Feng ’10 said, “If my efforts to conserve the environment were directly correlated to the quality of the food at Commons the last few days, I would care a lot more about the environment.” “In addition to advocating the local vendors, another sustainability goal that we are currently working toward is going paperless,” said Giampa. According to Giampa, electronic picture framers will be used in all of the different food stations to replace the paper menu platforms that are currently in use. Paresky staff members have also decorated the dining hall with plants such as wheat grass in celebration of Earth Week. Giampa said, “When we found out from our surveys that students weren’t really looking at the Commons related announcements on Blackboard or the Paresky website, we wanted to raise awareness among students in a catchy way. That is how we came up with the wheat grass decorations and the plant-filled wheelbarrows outside of Commons.” Jessica Blake ’10, President of Eco-Action, said, “It was nice to see the efforts made by the Commons staff to celebrate Earth Week, and I hope Commons continues to take active measures to raise environmental awareness in the Andover community.”