NUI Galway recognises the inter-linkages between health, environment, economy and society in the provision of food on campus. The University will continue to improve the quality of food served, will reduce food wastage and provide food choices that are sourced from a low-carbon food chain to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate against the effects of climate change. NUI Galway will provide calorie counts on menus, to increase customer awareness with regards to adapting a more healthy approach to eating and making more informed decisions when choosing food.

NUI Galway have developed an innovative and holistic method for assessing the sustainability of food known as the FOODSCALE Tool. The FOODSCALE Tool takes into account the entire food system, including: production, distribution, procurement, consumption and waste disposal, and reconciles the inter-linkages between economy, society and environment in food sustainability.

The sustainability initiative will highlight urban agriculture as a response to urbanisation and unsustainability in the food production system. A community garden, for example, can offer opportunities to students, staff and the surrounding community to reconnect with food and its origin and can have a positive impact on improving mental health. A community garden can demonstrate a circular economy where food waste from campus cafés and restaurants can be used as fertiliser in the garden.

Sustainability is also core part of the Students’ Union’s strategy. Several initiatives have been adopted as part of the refurbishment of Sult, incorporating sustainability in the operation of the bar and restaurant. There is also a core belief that as a food and beverage provider on campus we have a responsibility to involve students, educating them and making them aware of healthy eating habits and sustainable living practices. Below are several examples of these initiatives.

Food provenance – Several local food producers are supplying their products directly to Sult. An example is Castlemine Farm from Roscommon who supply the Bar with their artisan sausages and sausage rolls from their free range pigs. We are endeavouring to build awareness around the provenance of food and animal welfare. In house competitions and Farm visits will be provided for students. Supporting local food producers directly allows for more seasonal cooking with local ingredients, cutting down on travel miles in the transportation of food.

Zero waste to landfill – In an initiative to produce zero waste to landfill from Sult, all general waste bins have been removed and replaced with recycling and food compost bins only. In order for this to be successful, all food ware (apart from main course plates) and cutlery that is used is fully compostable . These certified compostable materials return to soil to be used on Irish farms after 12 weeks of organic recycling. Examples of compostable food ware now in use are coffee cups & lids, pizza boxes, plates and cutlery. It is estimated that in the first year we will save:

- 1.6 tonnes of carbon

- 2.4 tonnes of virgin pulp material

- 3 tonnes from landfill

Healthy eating - The years spent at third level education are formative years in a young person’s life, unfortunately they are often associated with poor eating habits. We have reviewed our food offering at Sult to introduce new healthy food concepts eg Super BiaBox. Our head chef will also be running some healthy food cookery demos for students, in order for them to learn some simple cooking skills.

Water fountain – We offer students complimentary fresh drinking water to enjoy while dining in the bar or to refill their own bottles. This reduces the amount of plastic bottles going to waste disposal.

Coffee – All of the coffee used in Sult is Organic and Fairtrade.

Re-invest profits – All of the profits generated in Sult will be reinvested into student services on campus.

Our other campus caterers continuously strive to make better choices for both our customers and the environment. Below are just a sample of the other initiatives that have been put in place:

  • Addition of calorie counts on menus, which has a huge impact on customer awareness with regards to adapting a more healthy approach to eating and making more informed decisions when choosing food.
  • Recycling systems are in place to help conserve natural resources e.g. bins for general waste, food and recycling material.