The Environmental Affairs Board and members from Real Food Challenge have teamed up with campus dining services in an effort to reduce the cafeterias’ environmental and ecological impact.
EAB implemented a project last quarter requiring the campus cafeterias to operate without using serving trays. Following the success of their conversion to trayless dining, UCSB’s dining commons have saved enough money to invest in their second major EAB-backed endeavor — to provide eggs from cage-free chickens in the place of standard industry eggs. In addition, the dining commons also hosted a Meatless Monday event on March 1 in an effort to reduce meat consumption.
While switching from eggs that come from cage-free chickens may seem like a small change, according to EAB publicity co-chair Andrew Dunn, a fourth-year Spanish major, the impact will benefit animals and consumers alike.
“Cage-free eggs benefit the chickens and the consumers of their eggs,” Dunn said. “Cage-free production has advantages over industry eggs because it inflicts less suffering on the animals and requires fewer antibiotics.”
Like most organic and specialty foods, there is a higher cost margin for dining services to carry cage-free eggs. According to Dunn, however, the higher cost will not affect the university overall, as money saved from going tray-less has provided funding for the new egg source as well as other items.
“They are now able to use those funds to purchase items that were previously beyond budget, like cage-free eggs, fair-trade coffee, and more local and organic produce,” Dunn said.
Started by a non-profit program tied to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Meatless Mondays is a nation-wide movement aimed to reduce meat consumption by 15 percent simply by not providing meat one day a week.
UCSB hosted a Meatless Monday on March 1 at the Carrillo, Ortega, Portola and De La Guerra Dining Commons. Volunteers from the Real Food Challenge and EAB were also on site at each eatery lunch and dinner, asking students to pledge to go beefless on Mondays.
Megan Carney, sustainable food coordinator for UCSB residential dining, said there presently is not a definite schedule for Meatless Mondays.
“We are still determining to what extent we will implement Meatless Mondays,” Carney, a third-year anthropology major, said. “We intended for last week’s to provide an educational opportunity for students to learn about the environmental costs, including the greenhouse gas emissions associated with meat production and to encourage students to make better informed and healthier dietary decisions.”
Despite good intentions and some positive feedback, first-year linguistics major Deanna Melin said Meatless Mondays has been met with mixed feelings from many meal plan holders who say the project infringes on the meal options they have paid for.
“It’s a justified response in the sense that people pay for the dining commons and that they want meat, but it’s one day a week and its just because they want [to eat meat], [although] they don’t need to have it. … Still, I know a lot of people who went to McDonald’s after [Meatless Monday].”
EAB will also host meatless picnics every Monday at 1 p.m. on the grass in front of Storke Tower.