Op-Ed, Opinion

OP-ED: BU must demand climate action from Aramark

Op-Eds do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author(s). 

David Lewis is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences.

In my time at Boston University, I’ve heard (and made) many complaints about the dining halls. Students are dissatisfied with the quality of food, how it’s prepared, a lack of options, long lines and more. I think anyone who has eaten in one of our dining halls can attest to these problems. 

While these complaints are valid, the problems with dining include not only students and our taste buds but the future of our planet. Dining hall menus are filled with red meat and dairy, foods whose preparation is environmentally damaging. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are a result of livestock production. 

While our individual choices about what we consume have the power to create change, the environmental impact of large companies like Aramark, BU’s dining service provider, will always outweigh them. 

That’s why students at colleges nationwide are working with the Natural Resources Defense Council to ask Aramark to reduce emissions associated with its most climate-intensive foods by 20 percent, as well as for 50 percent of its entrees to be plant-based. In January, students from Drexel University and Temple University gathered to put pressure on shareholders at Aramark’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. 

This campaign has reached our own campus as well. A group of students protested in front of the George Sherman Union on Feb. 27. Students chanted and held posters, calling on Aramark to change. BU must follow the example being set by these students, and call on Aramark to commit to these changes. 

BU has certainly made positive changes around campus with commitments to sustainability. The University’s Climate Action Plan set bold goals for the campus, intending to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2040. Sustainability@BU and various student groups encourage students to make environmentally friendly choices in their daily lives.

The school’s sustainability efforts are certainly admirable, but the failure of our dining service provider to do the same cannot be ignored. Aramark is America’s largest food service company, serving meals in schools, arenas, prisons, hospitals and businesses. It serves a total of two billion meals a year, and not just in America but in 19 countries worldwide. 

Unfortunately, Aramark has set uninspiring goals and come up with weak plans to reduce its environmental harm. It aims to cut food waste in half by 2030 and decrease its use of plastic straws by 60 percent. It boasts a plan to reduce red meat in its menus by a mere 5 percent. 

According to the NRDC, Aramark has yet to show any proof of these reductions. If it instead makes the changes students are requesting, Aramark could significantly reduce global emissions and send a strong message to fellow food service companies to do the same.

As a large institution feeding thousands of students, BU’s opinion should certainly hold weight with Aramark. Our university has a duty to use its influence to protect the students’ interests, present and future, and prove its commitment to sustainability and climate action by demanding Aramark make changes for the better. 



  1. Concerned Student Employee

    This article gives very vague comments about Aramark as a whole in terms of what it plans to do for the environment. You fail to quote anything that BU Dining is currently doing on campus, and that is just misleading on your part. I don’t feel you actually wrote this article. It comes off as an organization that is against Aramark wrote this article. Quite unfortunate on your part. As a student employee of dining I felt I had to say something because you base your entire article on aramark as a corporation and not locally. BU Dining is doing tremendous things for sustainability actions. Please don’t delete this comment either like you do constantly if someone doesn’t agree with you. Your article does not come off as good for the Daily Free Press.

    • Hi,

      As is stated at the beginning of the article, this op-ed was not written by anyone at The Daily Free Press and does not represent our views. We welcome an op-ed written in dissent of this opinion if you wish to submit one. Additionally, we do not delete comments that contradict the articles we publish and never will, as it is strictly against our policy.

      Victoria Bond, Editor-in-Chief Spring 2020