Kale Yeah! Kitchens: a new scheme to green university meals

By signing up, university caterers can ensure they meet recommended targets on meat and dairy consumption in an effort to protect the planet
  Published:  04 Oct 2021    |      2 minute read

To motivate university caterers to help fight climate and nature breakdown, Friends of the Earth is launching a new accreditation scheme – Kale Yeah! Kitchens.

The scheme, which is launching in October, is encouraging caterers to make their menus more sustainable by serving less and higher welfare meat, dairy and fish and offering more tasty plant-based options. Six universities, including Bristol, Winchester and Portsmouth are joining the initial launch.

Globally, meat and dairy production is one of the leading drivers of the climate and ecological emergencies, accounting for 14.5% of climate-wrecking emissions worldwide. Intensive livestock farming practices are also known to have a devastating impact on nature and wildlife, responsible for fuelling deforestation and species extinction in South America and elsewhere. Industrial fishing is decimating wild species and the wider marine environment.

By becoming a Kale Yeah! Kitchen, caterers can help to reduce the amount of meat and dairy eaten on campus in line with targets set out by government advisors, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), who say it must fall by 20% by 2030, and 35% by 2050 in order to help prevent catastrophic climate change.

There are five different levels of accreditation to work through, with caterers encouraged to rebalance their dishes, incentivise plant-based eating via a loyalty card scheme and commit to promoting sustainability.

In reaching the higher levels, caterers can ensure they are in line with Friends of the Earth and the Eating Better Alliance’s more ambitious target of a 50% reduction in the amount of meat and dairy eaten and produced in the UK by 2030, which is needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

Friends of the Earth worked with several member universities of The University Caterer’s Organisation (TUCO), who were instrumental in shaping the scheme. By committing to promote healthier, sustainable eating, participating caterers will have to alter their procurement and menus, and employ ‘nudges’ to inspire cultural, behavioural and attitudinal changes to the way we eat.

Six universities are joining the initial launch:

  • Anglia Ruskin
  • Bristol
  • Chester
  • Edinburgh Napier
  • Portsmouth
  • Winchester

Other universities are invited to join and grow the movement over the academic year.

Clare Oxborrow, senior sustainability analyst at Friends of the Earth, said:

“Recent stark warnings about our changing world can be difficult to digest. But instead of losing hope, we should instead use them as the momentum to strive for a healthier, thriving planet. There’s so much that can be done at every level of society to stop us hurtling towards climate chaos.

“The Kale Yeah! Kitchens programme is so exciting because it comes at a moment where people want to do their best by the planet, not least hungry, climate conscious students. By joining the scheme, university caterers can make impactful, yet simple changes to their menus and sourcing, enabling thousands of students to access sustainable, healthy and delicious food.

“There’s so much power in food, and we need to see leadership from the food service industry to curb climate and ecological breakdown. The contribution of those across the sector will be vital in the coming years, so it’s great to see enthusiasm from caterers who have already signed up to the scheme.”

Dave Morton, Catering Operations Manager at the University of Winchester, said:

“The University of Winchester Catering team have spent the last four years monitoring Co2 emissions, so we recognise the importance of this great initiative from Friends of the Earth. Reducing overall levels of meat and dairy consumption will be a key factor in helping to reduce carbon emissions and support action on climate change. The Kale Yeah! Kitchens approach is a great way to not only incentivise meat eaters and flexitarians to reduce their intake, but also educate and inform them at the same time.”

Paula Martindale, Catering Operations Manager at the University of Chester, said:

"Our mission and vision are to satisfy our customers while being driven by sustainability all the way. We're pleased to be participating in the new Kale Yeah! Kitchens scheme, which shows our customers our commitment to health, animal welfare and the environment."

ENDS