Dining services offers first locally sourced meal as part of green initiative 

On Wednesday, Sept. 20, Dining Services at the University of Rhode Island hosted their first locally sourced fish dinner as a part of their sustainability initiative. The bluefish was caught, filleted and transported by the Narragansett Bay Lobster Company in Galilee.

URI has been working towards providing fresh and local meal components for several semesters, even incorporating vegetables that were grown on our very own farm into entrees and salads.

Jacob Albernaz, dining services warehousing and supply chain graduate assistant, has taken on this project for the year in an effort to promote supporting local economies and providing additional fresh meal options.  

“For this dinner, I researched five different local fisheries,” explained Albernaz. “I was looking for a company that could accommodate our large order, fillet on location and wouldn’t need to freeze the order for transportation.”

After deciding on Narragansett Bay Lobster Company, “the boat went out Sunday and returned Monday with our 400 pounds of bluefish,” said Albernaz. “After being processed and filleted, they delivered it to us on Tuesday in preparation for our meal.”

Dining Services runs on a 16 week meal schedule that allows for inventory to be brought into the warehouse, moved to the dining halls, prepared and served in an organized and calculated method. This system, however, does not lend well to changes in menu items, making the fresh fish a huge adjustment for Dining Services.

Incorporating fresh menu items is not the only change towards sustainability that Dining Services has brought into fruition. This semester, the University began composting in almost all of its facilities.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have composting for Catering Services this year,” explained Albernaz. “But it is something we are working on.”

In the past, composting has been a challenge for the University because of how much waste we accumulate exceeding the amount most composting facilities will accept. However, we are now moving forward and moving towards composting wherever we produce food waste. In addition, Dining Services now operates with a paperless menu that lists ingredients and dietary restrictions.

For the rest of this year, both dining halls will be hosting a locally sourced fish dinner once a month. “Give it a try,” said Albernaz. “If you don’t like it, we can compost it.”