The state of Mississippi had zero certified green restaurants until this summer when Ole Miss’s Rebel Market was named the first and only certified green restaurant in the state.
The process began in March, and the Rebel Market was able to accomplish Level One Certification from the Green Restaurant Association this past June.
“Being the first Level One Certified Green Restaurant is unique because no other higher education institution has done this nor any restaurants in Mississippi. We hope this pushes other dining facilities in the state to become Certified Green,” said Amy Greenwood, marketing coordinator for Ole Miss Dining.
Ole Miss Dining serves more than 20,000 students daily and operates 20-plus locations on the university’s campus. This takes a lot of resources and energy to operate such a vast market. As a result, Ole Miss Dining wanted to learn how to utilize their resources and better their services.
“The in-depth process consisted of communication with Ole Miss Dining vendors and an examination of menu options," said Valerie Schultz, residential food service director for Ole Miss Dining. "Additionally, Green Restaurant Association conducted a comprehensive walkthrough of the building to determine water flow, automatic lighting and various types of light bulbs in use, energy efficiencies of all equipment, proximity to various modes of transportation and reusable takeout options."
“In order to become Certified Green, Ole Miss Dining made hundreds of changes and additions to their various locations around campus," Greenwood said. "The dining services removed all Styrofoam from their facility and replaced it with reusable glassware, dishes and utensils for dine-in customers, and reusable take-out containers.
“Those changes helped decrease the amount of waste significantly."
But the changes don't stop there. Ole Miss Dining retrofitted facilities with energy-saving lighting, high-efficiency hand dryers, low-flow toilets, and made accommodations to effectively recycle.
“The biggest change will be the increase of vegetarian and vegan options on the menus at the Rebel Market,” Schultz said.
This means that 40% of Ole Miss Dining’s main dishes are vegan or vegetarian because they require significantly less energy and water to produce than meat-based products.
“We look to continue our Green Certification by adding to the facility over the next year,” Greenwood said.
Which means Ole Miss Dining will save even more energy and resources in the future.