Green Campus Spotlight: PSU Eats makes sustainability a priority
Author: Campus Sustainability Office
Posted: October 9, 2017

Portland State’s new food service provider, PSU Eats, is putting sustainability front and center.

The renovated dining area on the first floor of Smith Memorial Student Union features local Portland favorites like Bowery Bagels, Cha Cha Cha, Roman Candle Baking Co., and Salt and Straw, and more vegan, local, and sustainable food options.

Meet PSU Eats sustainability coordinator, Mark Harris, who is working closely with the Campus Sustainability Office to align the University’s new dining services with PSU’s sustainability goals. Harris wants all PSU Eats employees—about 150 in all—to play an active role in contributing to a sustainable campus.  

“Sustainability to me is personal,” Harris said. “All of the little things we can do to be more sustainable can add up and truly have an impact.”

Harris hit the ground running in July, and is working on several projects to not only improve operations and sustainable food options in dining facilities, but also to support the campus community through collaborating and engaging with students, faculty, and staff.

Some of the projects Harris and his team are currently working on:

  • Reducing wasted food through a program that tracks food waste from the kitchen as well as from the customer. This will help PSU Eats diagnose issues and raise employee awareness around food preparation and serving sizes.
  • Donating produce and grab-and-go items to the PSU Food Pantry, and donating unserved catering food to a local shelter, Blanchet House.
  • Increasing vegan food options, including experimenting with a 100 percent vegan menu at PDX Local, a rotating culinary station in Smith’s Kitchen, where students can vote for the menu they want see. Keep an eye on PSU Eats Facebook page for menus and details on how you can vote.
  • Building a partnership with Imperfect Produce, a company dedicated to supporting local farmers and reducing food waste by rescuing fruits and vegetables that are often wasted due to irregular size, shape, and color, and delivering them to your home. Stop by Smith’s Kitchen Tuesdays in October from 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. to meet Imperfect Produce. If there is enough interest, PSU Eats may become a delivery location where people can pick up a box of produce and avoid the delivery fee.  
  • Building a partnership with the Graduate School of Education’s Learning Gardens Lab to incorporate produce grown at the garden in food prepared in PSU dining facilities.
  • Contributing to the Committee for Improving Student Food Security, first annual Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week, by hosting a screening and discussion panel of Wasted, a new documentary film that aims to change the way people buy, cook, recycle and eat food. This special screening will be held in the Smith Memorial Student Union’s Parkway North on Tuesday, November 14, 5–8 p.m.

Find out more about PSU Eats sustainability efforts and connect with them via Facebook to share your ideas.