Responsible food and water production and consumption

The United Nations estimate that farming and food production cause around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is a massive environmental impact and we will not take it lightly. We are passionate about providing sustainable food choices on campus, with Sussex Food (the University’s catering provider) being awarded the highest-possible rating by the Sustainable Restaurant Association in 2019.

However, we want to go even further. That is why we have created four new sustainable food priorities that we want to see on our campus. Firstly, we will ensure that at least 80% of our fresh produce, excluding dairy, comes from local producers with a focus on seasonally appropriate foods where possible.

Secondly, we will improve the quality of consumer information in relation to food sustainability. We will do this by piloting the introduction of a food sustainability traffic light system. This will rank different menu choices as red, amber or green according to their sustainability in the same way that salt, fat and sugar content is colour coded on supermarket food from September 2021.

Thirdly, we will review all catering outlets to identify their suitability for becoming net zero cafés by December 2022, and use the findings to select a number of locations to offer net zero catering.

Fourthly and finally, we will respond to the recent Students’ Union referendum result on banning the sale of beef and lamb on campus by establishing a citizen-style assembly of students and staff. This will identify recommendations on what would need to be done to change consumer demand to support the campus consuming less meat and/or becoming beef and lamb free by 2023, and if there is a place for sustainably sourced meat on our menus.

Outside of these principles we will continue to actively support the production and distribution of sustainable food on campus via our Forest Food Garden project, and student run Roots allotments and Food Waste Café. In particular, our Sustainability Committee is supportive of the Students’ Union investigating the feasibility of establishing a community kitchen on campus. We will also continue to support the redistribution of surplus food to food banks and other community destinations.

We will also support the sustainable production and consumption of water on campus. We will do this by building water-efficiency products and standards into all of our work around energy-efficient buildings and achieving net zero. However, we want to go even further than this and treat clean water and sanitation, water conservation and the protection of aquatic ecosystems as key priorities in their own right.

This has not historically been an area of comparative strength for the University, so we will create a task force to conduct a strategic review of options to increase sustainable water consumption and production on campus from January 2024 that will result in the setting of water consumption targets from August 2024 onwards.