Marketing an Environmentally Sustainable Catering Model: A Case Study of Medley Hall Residential College in Victoria, Australia

Marketing an Environmentally Sustainable Catering Model: A Case Study of Medley Hall Residential College in Victoria, Australia

Emily Foenander, Celia Green, Linda Portsmouth, Talia Raphaely
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4757-0.ch018
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This chapter presents a novel case study of a diet sustainability model implemented at Medley Hall, an on-campus student accommodation facility at a university in Victoria, Australia. Diet sustainability refers to measures to minimise adverse environmental impacts attributable to food production. A qualitative evaluation of this initiative was conducted during 2016 including interviews with both residents and staff. The results depict a grass-roots initiative that evolved to become a deeply embedded component of organisational identity. Social marketing strategies were employed at multiple governance levels, including: (i) residents, (ii) staff and (iii) college. The evaluation data from this study provides indication of the key drivers of success in motivating consumers (residents) to engage with and embrace diet sustainability interventions and demonstrates the utility of community-based social marketing (CBSM) in informing such initiatives.
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There are complex links between climate change, food systems and dietary choices, and with a rising world population it is anticipated that the global food system will experience a multitude of converging pressures over coming decades (Pearson et al., 2014). Food production and consumption require significant amounts of natural resources (land, water, minerals, energy) which in turn generate substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Elferink et al., 2008). Spurred by large increases in global populations and more recently, rising affluence, food production more than doubled in the second half of the 20th century (Khan & Hanjra, 2009). This increased demand has placed unparalleled pressures on the environment, resulting in changes to climate systems, loss of biodiversity, land degradation and increased resource use (Ericksen et al., 2009).

Whether food is animal-based or plant-based has a large bearing on the amount of GHG emitted in its production life cycle. Livestock production has been shown to be especially GHG intensive, with the global livestock sector accounting for approximately 14.5% of all anthropogenic GHG emissions (Ripple et al., 2014). Globally the demand for meat is rising, with Steinfeld et al. (2006) predicting it to double by 2050 from the 1999/01 levels. This poses significant societal challenges given livestock production impacts on almost all elements of the environment, i.e. land, soil, water, air, biodiversity (de Vries & de Boer, 2010).

Sustainable Diets

Through its impact on the food system, climate change affects people’s diets and nutritional status. Conversely, dietary choices and food systems affect GHG emissions, and consequently climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions from food production have been shown to be on par with emissions from the transport sector (Garnett, 2009) and a regional European analysis showed food accounting for 31% of the EU-25s total GHG impact (Tukker et al., 2006). Recently there have been a number of studies examining the association between dietary choices, food production systems, and the resultant impact on GHG emissions. The term “sustainable diet” used in the context of this chapter, refers to dietary models designed with an aim of minimising, where contextually practicable, adverse environmental food production impacts.

Joyce et al. (2014) conducted a systematic review of research modelling different dietary patterns and GHG emissions which revealed that the greater the reduction in animal-based foods, the lower the GHG emission impact. Reduced animal food production has the potential to decrease GHG emissions compared to technological mitigation or increased productivity measures (Hedenus et al., 2014; Popp et al., 2010), with the greatest GHG reduction potential achieved by a combined approach integrating both diet sustainability and other sustainability measures (Popp et al., 2010).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Pilot Study (Pilot): A small-scale study conducted to evaluate feasibility and appropriateness of a larger or full-scale implementation or research project.

Marketing Campaign: Specially designed activities aimed at encouraging the use of particular products, services or promoting particular behaviours.

Residential College: An organization which provides housing for university students within a community setting with shared meals and other activities which enhance university life.

Orientation-Week: The week before commencement of semester studies at university when new students are welcomed and introduced to university life.

Evaluation: A systematic assessment of the merits of a particular initiative.

Medletarian: A Medley College resident consuming predominantly vegetarian food at Medley whilst being a flexible consumer of meat when off-site.

Sustainable Diet: A diet which minimizes the environmental impact of the food consumed by humans.

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