CRYSTAL LAKE – When McHenry County College’s cafeteria is in need of lettuce and other vegetables, the cafe’s employees get the necessary greens from right down the hall.
“MCC’s Horticulture Department provides us with hydroponic lettuce, herbs and other veggies, so it doesn’t get more local or fresh than that,” said Sandra Johnston, MCC’s food service director.
And Johnston said that’s not the only sustainable initiative the college is taking.
“We’ve totally eliminated the use of all Styrofoam products and use disposables that are environmentally friendly,” Johnston said. “We also have reusable chinaware.”
In recognition of the community college’s eco-friendly efforts, MCC’s cafeteria recently earned a green restaurant certification from the Green Restaurant Association, a nonprofit organization that helps eateries become more environmentally responsible.
According to a news release, MCC’s cafe is the first community college cafeteria in the country to become certified as a green restaurant through the nonprofit organization.
For an eatery to qualify for the certification, the Green Restaurant Association has standards involving water efficiency, waste reduction and sustainable food that the eateries must meet.
“We’re just really glad to have a positive impact on the environment,” Johnston said. “We also do environmentally friendly things like repurpose our leftover food that’s still fresh to use in future meals.”
Johnston said this certification isn’t just a one-time thing but an ongoing improvement.
“We can always look at other steps we can take to move forward,” Johnston said. “For instance, we are looking at the chemicals we use in cleaning products as well as improving composting our food.”