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Webinar: Imagining the Future of Campus Food Service and Measuring Success

February 1, 2023 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EST


This event was moved from 9/14/22 to 2/1/23.

Food does not loom large enough in university sustainability metrics given its outsized role in achieving the SDGs. With increasing recognition that transforming food systems is critical for climate resiliency, human health, social and racial equity, and economic health, it is critical that we do more. We need to anticipate future innovations, understand emerging decisions that food service professionals will confront, and help guide campus decisions to advance the SDGs.

As a capstone project in their Master of Sustainable Food Systems degree, six graduate students, along with Professor Kathleen Merrigan, will present the results of a study of the many metrics used by third parties to evaluate the sustainability of campus dining providers and map these current metrics onto emerging trends and challenges. This will include sharing results of a survey and interviews, along with a literature review and in-depth comparative analysis. Rating systems, such as STARS, Princeton Review, Sierra Club Cool Schools, WRI Cool School Pledge, Real Food Project and more will be considered as part of this study.

This presentation will explore unintended consequences and missed opportunities, as well as strengths in current evaluation systems. Recommendations to improve university food system metrics (within food service and beyond) will be shared to alert the AASHE community of potential strategies that could be employed to enhance the sustainability of food systems locally, nationally, and globally.

For Members: Watch on Demand 

For members: archived webinars on demand   Upcoming webinars


Kathleen Merrigan, Professor and Executive Director, Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems, Arizona State University

Kathleen A. Merrigan is an expert in food and agriculture, celebrated by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2010. Currently, she serves as Professor in the School of Sustainability and executive director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University. From 2009 to 2013, Merrigan was deputy secretary and COO of the United States Department of Agriculture, where she led efforts to support local food systems. She is known for authoring the law establishing national standards for organic food and the federal definition of sustainable agriculture. Merrigan is a board member of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions and a Trustee of CIFOR and ICRAF. She is a partner in Astanor Ventures and an advisor to S2G Ventures, two firms investing in ag-tech innovation. Merrigan holds a PhD in Public Policy and Environmental Planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Master in Public Affairs from University of Texas at Austin, and BA from Williams College.

Nicholas Benard, Capstone Student, Arizona State University

Nick’s passion has always been to better understand food and the culture and history behind it, which has been a continuous work of education and discovery. After graduating from Penn State, he worked in purchasing for a specialty food and cheese importer for almost nine years. While there he became fascinated with traditional foodways, which brought him to stage at butcher shops in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and learn on-farm slaughter and seam butchery from Christoph Wiesner, President of the Austrian Mangalitza Pig Breeders Union. In 2014, he began to work in professional kitchens, specializing in butchery, charcuterie, and inventory management. Over the years he built several long-standing relationships with local farmers and ranchers, which led to Nick delivering on-farm workshops on topics including raw-milk cheesemaking and whole hog butchery. He lives in Glendale, Arizona, with his wife, daughter, and two dogs. In his free time he likes to tend to their small backyard food forest.

Stephanie Lip, Capstone Student, Arizona State University

After graduating from Johnson & Wales University with a degree in Culinary Arts & Nutrition, Stephanie moved to Arizona to serve as an inaugural service member with FoodCorps in 2011. Her year of service opened her eyes to the realities of the nation’s flawed food system, including the industry of school food. Having primarily worked in restaurants and back-of-the-house roles, Stephanie redirected her experiences to improving service to students in schools. Since then, Stephanie has worked with several school districts in various roles, including Supervisor with Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, Cafeteria Chef with Brigaid and New London Public Schools, and currently Nutrition Director with Pacific Grove Unified School District, where she oversees the preparation, execution, and service of USDA-compliant meals. In her spare time, you’d likely find Stephanie with food – she enjoys growing, cooking, eating, reading about, and watching anything food related. You would also find her French Bulldog, Yuba, inches away snoring in the background.

Kate Seybold, Capstone Student, Arizona State University

Kate works for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture as the Regional Marketing Specialist, supporting local and regional market development for Minnesota grown and raised foods. She coordinates statewide Farm to School training, technical support, and programming – including Minnesota’s new Harvest of the Month program. Kate also works closely with partners across the state to expand wholesale markets for small and emerging farmers, strengthen local and regional food systems, and support food and ag marketing efforts. Prior to her work at Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Kate spent six years leading Minneapolis Public Schools’ Farm to School program, overseeing the district’s local food procurement and education. Kate graduated from St. Olaf College with a degree in biology and environmental studies and she is an AmeriCorps alumnus. Kate currently serves on the Board of Directors for Seward Community Co-op and also recently served as Co-Chair of the Minneapolis Food Policy Council. Originally from central Wisconsin, Kate now calls Northfield, MN home.  

Eleanor Ross, Registered Nurse (RN), Texas Woman’s University

Elle Ross is the Farm to School Director for the Hardin School District 17H&1. She coordinates the food, gardening, and nutrition education throughout the district while working with farmers to increase local foods in the school lunch program. Additionally, Elle is the Executive Director of Helping Hands Food Bank, a nonprofit organization serving to eradicate hunger in Big Horn County by improving food access, quality, education and sovereignty for all.

While proudly from St.Louis, Elle has been in Montana since 2013. After graduating from Xavier University, she spent 2 years as an academic support through Jesuit VolunteerCorps Northwest at Pretty Eagle in St. Xavier, Montana. She stayed in the county serving 2015-2017 in the Hardin School District with FoodCorps, an AmeriCorps program connecting kids to healthy food in school. She has been fortunate to continue growing with this community over the last 8 years. Outside of work, Elle enjoys exploring all the Big Sky has to offer, playing in the garden, and riding her bike.




February 1, 2023
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EST
Event Category: