SUNY Cortland is promoting three simple steps to eating better as a way to thwart climate change during Climate-Friendly Eating Week, which runs April 16-22.
The first step is to eat more plant protein. Producing animal protein such as beef or pork requires large amounts of energy, land, water and other resources. Relying more heavily on protein-rich plants helps to reduce the carbon footprint created by our food supply system.
Second, students, staff and faculty are encouraged to reduce food waste. Auxiliary Services Corporation (ASC), which provides dining services on campus, donates leftover food to Cortland Loaves & Fishes. ASC has also reduced paper and plastic disposal in Neubig Hall’s dining facility by 30 percent since 2005.
Last, eating regionally and seasonally lessens transportation-related carbon emissions relative to eating food that is shipped from across the country or around the world.
“We know there are more and more students who are interested in eating climate-friendly and are already doing it and we want to highlight that,” said Jeremy Zhe-Heimerman, SUNY Cortland’s coordinator of assistive technology and test administration services and a member of the Student Affairs Sustainability Committee, a co-sponsor of Climate-Friendly Eating Week.
“It’s also that we want to get the word out to other people who are interested in it but don’t know how to do it. We want to highlight the great stuff ASC is doing. A lot of students don’t know how far along ASC has come in reducing food waste and its impact on the climate.”
A climate-friendly cooking demonstration will be held at The Bistro in the Student Life Center at lunchtime on Wednesday, April 19. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to gather for a meal of vegetarian stir fry and talk about how to eat better with the climate in mind.
Neubig Hall will host climate-friendly choices for lunch and dinner on Thursday, April 20. ASC staff will explain the organization’s dedication to food donation and composting programs as well as its reliance on local vendors.
At noon on Thursday in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge, a panel of students will discuss why they choose to eat climate-friendly and offer tips for others. These students are members of SUNY Cortland’s Green Representative program.
“I think that is something other students will get a lot out of,” Zhe-Heimerman said. “These students are taking initiative and being leaders on this issue.”
All are welcome to participate in a weeklong #climatefriendlycortland Instagram contest. Members of the College community are encouraged to post photos of climate-friendly meals, tell the story of why they eat climate-friendly, share a recipe or post climate-friendly eating facts to @healthycortland or by using the #climatefriendlycortland hashtag. Each post through the end of Saturday, April 22 will enter into a drawing for one of two prizes. Second prize is a $25 ASC gift card. The top prize is a new iPad mini 2.
Climate-Friendly Eating Week is sponsored by the Student Affairs Sustainability Committee, Health Promotion Office, ASC Dining, Green Reps, and the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.
For more information on SUNY Cortland’s climate change efforts, visit the College’s Sustainability page. For more information on Climate-Friendly Eating Week, contact Lauren Herman, the College’s health educator.