Students from the Environmental Working Group at the Green Week earlier this year. Picture: Kingston University
Students from the Environmental Working Group at the Green Week earlier this year. Picture: Kingston University

Students campaign for healthier canteen food

Three Kingston University students are organising a campaign to raise awareness on environmental sustainability and to introduce healthier meals and vegan snacks at the University.

The students came together to create the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and are currently running a campaign to get Elior, the University’s catering company, to provide healthier food choices.

Sustainable development student and member of EWG, Beatrice Tomassi, said: “We have been hearing many complaints about the food choices and, ourselves, never have the possibility to enjoy meals from the food store at university,” she said. “It would be great to have more plant-based options, but we are not talking about salad leaves and corn, we are talking of a wider selection of healthy food for our hungry souls.”

The 20-year-old said that they are collecting opinions from different students and that they will send the proposal to the catering company when they reach 100 statements.

“We just want to provide Elior with transparent feedback from many different students,” she said.

The EWG was created by Beatrice, another environmental science student, Giulia Selvaggi, 21, and environmental management student Nina Grote, 24.

The group has been organising many events and campaigns since January this year – including a trip to the Eden Project, a sustainable tourism attraction in Cornwall.

Giulia said: “This year the University gave us the opportunity to participate at the launch of Students Organizing for Sustainability (SOS) in Europe, held in the Eden Project. Should Kingston University take inspiration from these environment conscious behaviours and move on from old non-sustainable habits? We think it’s about time.”

Apart from that, the girls have also made some changes in the University grounds, like a garden growing vegetables behind the Town House.

 

Little garden behind Town House. Picture: Beatrice Tomassi

Little garden behind Town House. Picture: Beatrice Tomassi

“The little garden at Penrhyn Road was cleared from wild grasses and planted before the summer and again last month. We organised this with the Biodiversity Hub of KU,” Beatrice said. “We have peas, cabbage, salad, kale, leeks, mint, sage, rosemary and few more. We also have a compost bin and rainwater collection for watering plants.”

Another successful measure has been a petition started by the group, which asked for the University’s catering service “to serve their food in more sustainable packaging”. The EWG said they have always received support from the University, although it wishes that changes could be implemented faster.

Beatrice said: “The University always supports us but sometimes it is slow in making changes. We did not see any student group addressing sustainability issues and we believe it is fundamental, especially in a university.”

The three students often work with the Vegetarian and Vegan society, for instance during the Green Week last year, where the society provided “loads of plant based delights”.

“Raising awareness is our main goal so we always cover different issues such as recycling, bio-fuelled buses, sustainable materials, amongst others. We want to be in the EWG for our remaining time in University and we would definitely like this to keep going in the future.”

About Maria Delgado Gonçalves

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