UNITY, Maine (WABI) Unity College is proving why they're America's Environmental College after being nationally recognized for their leadership in sustainable college dining.
Taking home the gold in the waste management category, and up against finalists from much larger schools, they also won the overall grand prize for Sustainability from the National Association of College and University Food Services.
Jennifer deHart, Chief Sustainability Officer at Unity College says, "Sustainability is a mindset and a way of being that preserves resources for future generations. It can be that simple. And here at Unity, we live that through everything we do in our operations as well as in our curriculum and what we communicate to students."
Unity College recently underwent a sustainability restructure, merging dining, sustainability, and McKay Farm into one unit.
deHart says, "Bringing food into campus and then waste that goes out is a huge impact on our local and environment and also globally. Here we do focus on the type of food we bring in."
For this, Unity College partners with McKay Farms.
Chris Bond, Manager of McKay Farm says, "We grow about an acre of field produce and we have about half an acre of greenhouse produced food. Total production here was about 5,000 pounds, of which about 3,500 went to dining services."
The farm also employees students and acts as a classroom for different courses from the college.
The school also focuses on the waste they produce.
Lorey Duprey, Director of Dining at Unity College says, "We've diverted all of our waste to Agricycle Energy. It is an anaerobic bio-digester which converts waste into energy."
School officials say they're proud of their awards, but they want to be an example to others.
Duprey says, "To be recognized by your peers for everything you're doing, it's amazing. You feel like the little school that could."
deHart says, "We all make a difference. It doesn't matter if you're one person, one tiny school. What you do and what we do we think models good choices for our students. And our story, because it went on the national stage, can be an inspiration to other schools."