Food For Thought in the UCLA Sustainability Plan

By Karen Hallisey

November, especially given Thanksgiving, is an ideal time to talk about conscious consumption and the impact of food on the environment. The month, and its holiday centered on cooking and eating, is an opportunity to highlight food systems practices at the university. UCLA supports food sustainability, and in its Sustainability Plan, outlines specific goals in this area. 

So why is this important? Let’s look at the very definition of sustainability first: maintaining or improving standards of living without damaging or depleting natural resources for present and future generations. How that applies to food systems and our campus is through the distribution and consumption of food products that keep the environment in mind. 

Non-sustainable food systems contribute to air pollution, create non-potable (undrinkable) water, and cause land erosion, among other consequences that contribute to the climate crisis. Through dining practices and dining consumption, Bruins can help curb climate change. 

The Sustainability Plan builds on work already being done to help preserve individual, community, and planetary health. These are the planned efforts to create a greener, healthier, and more resilient campus when it comes to food. 

  • Provide patrons and foodservice staff educational and training modules to support sustainable food choices. 
  • Reduce food’s greenhouse emissions through globally-inspired, culturally-acceptable, plant-forward menus. 
  • Strive to meet this topic area’s criteria in existing leased locations and incorporate language into lease requirements for new vendors and at renewal. 
  • Increase sustainable food procurement using Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System criteria. 
  • Increase sustainable food spending in UCLA Health using Practice Greenhealth criteria, which provides sustainability solutions for the health care sector. 

Review UCLA Sustainability’s food systems goals in greater detail and learn about the other sustainability initiatives outlined in the plan on UCLA Sustainability’s website.