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Food and Dining

Sustainable Dining

Bon Appétit provides Vassar with quality, sustainable dining for its residential populations. Bon Appétit has a plant-forward focus, ensuring that all meals spotlight fresh, healthy, and environmentally-friendly fruits and vegetables - including food grown at the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve by the Poughkeepsie Farm Project. Purchasing locally-grown food for campus dining facilities is also a key priority, as is serving exclusively cage-free eggs and seafood that meets Seafood Watch sustainability requirement.

Vassar has banned the sale of bottled water on campus in vending machines. This policy alone has prevented tens of thousands of water bottles from being sent to landfills. Many vending machines specifically highlight sustainable food and beverage selections as an alternative to more traditional, less sustainable offerings.

Green2Go Program

Green2Go is Vassar’s reusable to-go container pilot program, reducing the amount of plastic and food waste generated through our dining operations. Beginning in February 2021, the Home, Oasis, Brick, and Root stations in Gordon Commons will offer pilot program participants a reusable to-go container option alongside the current single-use containers.

Interested in joining the program? Sign up here, and we’ll add you as space allows.

FAQs

How does Green2Go work?

When participants are enrolled in the program, they receive a laminated membership tag along with a token to get started. Once you have your card and token, you’ll use the following process to get your meals in a reusable container:

  1. Show Your Tag
    When you’re ready to be served at Home, Oasis, Brick, or Root, hold up the green participant tag you’ve received so your server knows to give you a reusable to-go container instead of a single-use one.

  2. Drop a Token
    Put a token in the bin in front of the station in exchange for the container you’re about to receive.

  3. Enjoy the Meal
    Your server will hand you your meal back in a reusable to-go container instead of a single-use one.

  4. Scrape (or Rinse) It Out
    Before bringing the container back, please scrape out any food scraps into one of the compost bins in Gordon Commons, and/or empty and rinse the container in the kitchen in your residence hall. Please do not rinse containers in bathroom sinks.

  5. Bring It Back
    The return machine is located near the dish return area in Gordon Commons. Remember to insert the container clasped shut and upside-down so the machine can read the barcode on the bottom of the container and process the return.

  6. Get a Token
    Once the return is processed, you’ll get a token from the machine that you can use for your next to-go meal.

Can I use the containers in the microwave?

Yes. All containers are microwave-safe, dishwasher-safe, BPA-free, and FDA-approved for safety.

What are the containers like?

Each container is made of heavy-duty plastic. Their size is 9" x 9" x 2.5" - big enough to hold an entree and multiple sides or two slices of pizza. This container size was selected to allow it to substitute for either the current single-use plastic containers or the cardboard pizza boxes.

An image of a square green reusable to-go container with its lid open to show an empty interior


How was this program developed?

Starting early in the fall semester, we heard from students across campus, including members of the Dining Committee, Vassar SEED, and Vassar GREENS, about the increase in waste from the required single-use containers. The Office of Sustainability and Dining Services spent the next several months identifying possible vendors, getting bids, and securing funding for the program before finalizing details and installing the system in December 2020 and January 2021.

What are the expected environmental impacts of the program?

Based on anticipated enrollment and trends from last semester, we anticipate that in Spring 2021 alone the Green2Go program will, at a minimum, prevent over 30,000 single-use containers from being used and sent to the landfill. 

Each reusable to-go container is rated for over 250 reuses. Once containers reach their end of useful life for the program, we anticipate either recycling or repurposing them depending on each one's condition.

Why is there a waitlist?

To ensure the success of the Green2Go program and the safety of students and dining staff, we are starting our pilot program with 100 students and expanding in waves throughout the spring semester. Students will be selected from the waitlist through a random drawing as capacity expands.

Will more dining locations be added to the program?

The Home, Oasis, Brick, and Root stations in Gordon Commons were selected as the best fits for our ability to offer reusable to-go containers while still adhering to required health and safety policies. We’re continuing to evaluate the feasibility of expanding the program to other locations, but this semester our main focus is expanding the number of students able to participate in the program at these four stations.

Some food items will still only be available in single-use containers, but the Green2Go program will still help substantially reduce our total dining waste, even if we can’t completely eliminate it.

Can employees participate in the program?

During this initial stage of the program, we’re focusing on student participants. As we move forward, we’re considering new opportunities and hope to be able to expand who is involved in the program.

What happens if I lose my container/token/card?

There will be a flat $6 replacement charge for lost tokens or cards. If your participant card is damaged but you still have it, you can exchange it at no cost. Please contact the Office of Sustainability for more information at sustainability@vassar.edu 

The Green2Go containers we’re using for the program are more durable than even other reusable to-go containers and can be reused as many as 300 times before their end of useful life. They also have a higher up-front cost and carbon impact than single-serving containers, and we need to be able to minimize the number of lost containers in order to ensure the program continues to make sense from both an operational and an environmental perspective.

Please note: The Office of Sustainability oversees the distribution of replacement tokens, not Dining Services. Cashiers and servers at Gordon Commons cannot provide replacement tokens or cards. You may have to use single-serving containers until you receive your new tokens.

Can I share my containers or tokens with people who haven’t enrolled in the program?

Please do not share containers or tokens with other individuals. We are intentionally growing enrollment as we have the capacity. The addition of unenrolled participants impacts our ability to gather accurate data in order to continue the program.

I have a question that's not answered above. Who should I contact?

For more information about the Green2Go Program, please contact the Office of Sustainability via sustainability@vassar.edu.