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ASU promotes climate-friendly meals in on-campus pilot program

Sun Devil Dining stamps climate-friendly meals with 'Cool Food Meals' badge


ASU is one of 10 schools chosen for the pilot program which will label climate-friendly foods. Illustration originally published on Monday, March 29, 2021.

Sun Devil Dining will now label climate-friendly meals through the Cool Food Meals program starting Spring 2022. The label, a green smirking face with a white and black circle, will be added to several menus in dining halls across the Tempe campus.

World Resources Institute selected ASU as one of 10 universities for the pilot program, which will put the Cool Food Meals badge on the menus of Aramark, a catering company contracted by ASU.

The low carbon footprint meals will have a Cool Food Meals badge, identifying dishes with a lower carbon footprint. Climate-friendly meals must pass the World Resources Institute's standards based on the ingredients and land used to bring the food to the table.

"If a dish's carbon footprint falls below an established per-meal threshold and meets a nutrition safeguard, it is approved as a Cool Food Meal," ASU News said in a press release.

"To select our pilot schools, we looked at partner institutions who are thought leaders in the sustainability arena and where we partner to further the work or agenda of the university," Heather Dotchel, director of external communications at Aramark, said in an email. "ASU has been a great partner in sustainability, and we knew the student body was passionate about the environment."

Jane Coghlan, a senior sustainable food systems major, said the Cool Foods badge will make it easier for students to make informed decisions about their food.

"As a consumer, it can be challenging to figure out what the most sustainable options are because there are so many factors to consider, but this badge makes it simple and easy," said Coghlan, the vice president of the Gardens at ASU club, in an email.

The press release said meal options will include "a southwestern sweet potato breakfast skillet, linguine with lemon garlic shrimp and cauliflower rice stir fry." The badges will appear on over 350 food options on menus at Tempe campus residential dining halls like Pitchforks, Hassayampa, Manzanita, Barrett Dining Center and Tooker House. 

"I think it's a good idea because it will give students more of a new look on how food can be made environmentally friendly," said Samuel Bundy, a sophomore finance major who frequently uses the Sun Devil Dining services. "It even appropriates their taste buds to enjoy these newer items outside of the dining hall."

The Cool Food Meals program is part of ASU's goal to foster a strong relationship with food, the press release said. 

"The food system is a major contributor to climate change and ecosystem degradation," said Coghlan. "So this is a big step in the right direction to a more sustainable food system."

Coghlan said she hopes ASU's participation will influence other schools to make the same change. 

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Andrea RamirezCommunity Reporter

Andrea Ramirez is a part-time reporter at The State Press. She has previously worked for The State Press for Spring ‘23. 

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