Supporting the Community: University of West London
Sustainability lies at the core of the mission at University of West London (UWL), with a clear understanding of how the University fits within a wider social and environmental landscape. We caught up with Peter Cross, Senior Lecturer at the London Geller College of Hospitality & Tourism, to talk about the process of taking the Food Made Good Standard, how it has helped their operations to grow and why they work to ensure that sustainability at UWL includes a focus on their local community.
Shaping the future of the industry
The training restaurant at UWL is where hospitality students – the future of the industry –come to learn the ropes. This makes it crucial to ensure that sustainability is a key consideration, woven throughout the entire operation. “As a training restaurant,” says Peter, “the focus is on nurturing the future leaders of the hospitality industry. We understand the vital role our students will play in shaping the future of the sector.”
The department is determined to build the principles of sustainability into this on-the-ground training, ensuring that students are not only equipped with essential knowledge around sustainability but also with the practical skills they will need to implement sustainable practices in their future careers. “Sustainability matters to us because we believe it is our responsibility to create a positive impact on the environment and society, and it is our hope that the students will carry this ethos forward, making a difference in the industry and beyond.”
The nature of a kitchen like this is one of continuous rotation. “With new students of varying skill levels joining us fresh every semester, we need to ensure that our sustainability approaches are effectively communicated in a clear, concise and repeatable manner,” says Peter. “Each student's learning journey is unique, and it is essential that all of them understand and implement sustainability practices consistently.” Lecturers and trainers rise to this challenge by delivering comprehensive and accessible sustainability guidance to every student, fostering a culture of sustainable food production throughout their time at the University.
The University has a unique opportunity to be an integral part of the local community in Ealing. The faculty takes great pride in its history of training hospitality professionals while offering exceptional dining experiences and educational events to its neighbours. They collaborate with groups that are passionate about healthy and sustainable food – such as the Ealing Food Partnership, Cultivate London and Ealing Transition – which allows them to engage in meaningful discussions, share insights and foster a culture of continuous learning.
“Supporting the community is not just about running a business; it's about fostering a sense of connection and shared values,” says Peter. “By supporting our community's values and aspirations, we strengthen our commitment to creating a positive impact beyond the confines of the restaurant.” This attitude has only been reinforced through the process of taking the Food Made Good Standard.
Finding the Food Made Good Standard
The University’s commitment to providing the best education for students has created a culture of continuous improvement across the hospitality, culinary and nutrition courses to align with industry standards and best practices – which is how they found Food Made Good. Peter says, “The FMG Standard emerged as a valuable and widely recognised industry framework addressing the critical issues of sustainability in the hospitality sector. Its comprehensive approach and emphasis on sustainability aspects resonated with our business values, making it a natural choice for our institution.” The guidance and support provided through the Standard allows them to equip students with up-to-date and relevant knowledge, and in addition serves to reaffirm their commitment to sustainability within the industry.
Peter tells us how taking the Standard has “significantly enhanced” how UWL considers, and interacts with, their community. With a structured framework to document and showcase their sustainability engagement within the community, the University can now demonstrate the positive initiatives they undertake and share progress with stakeholders, building transparency and trust. “This has also allowed us to create new networks and collaborations within the community, amplifying our impact and fostering a collective commitment to sustainability.”
Sustainability is a journey
“For businesses considering the Food Made Good Standard evaluation, we strongly advise embracing sustainability as a comprehensive journey rather than a singular destination,” says Peter. He notes that sustainability in food encompasses a variety of interconnected areas, and that addressing all areas is essential for making a real and lasting impact. Because the Food Made Good framework is holistic in nature, it serves as a comprehensive guide, offering support and actionable insights to inform progress across every facet of operations.
While the team was initially surprised by the wide range of evidence required in completing the Standard, Peter explains that this resulted in more effective change, providing profound insights into how and where to improve. “This challenge encouraged us to delve deeper into our practices and adopt more innovative and robust methods for quantifying our sustainability efforts effectively.” The experience also “reinforced the significance of understanding the complexities of sustainability” and has helped the business to adapt accordingly. Following this work, Peter believes that, by taking the Standard seriously and implementing its recommendations, businesses can enhance their environmental and social responsibility, contributing positively to their communities and the wider industry.
Positive outcomes across the board
The perspective provided by the Standard has led to tangible improvements in how the team tackles food waste. “By training all our students and staff using the Guardians of Grub Cost Saving Skills course, we have seen a significant reduction in our food waste. Not only do these changes align with our University's commitment to net zero, but the course helps educate our staff and students on this important issue.”
In addition to in-house metrics, the team have found that customers have also voiced their appreciation. “They value the fact that we educate and encourage them to make responsible choices during their dining experience,” says Peter. “Many have expressed their support for our sustainability practices and have embraced the opportunity to be a part of this important journey. By involving our customers in our sustainability efforts, we foster a sense of shared responsibility, and they leave our restaurant with a greater understanding of the positive impact their choices can make.”
What’s next for University of West London?
As the team at UWL looks ahead on their sustainability journey, they are committed to further integrating sustainability into every aspect of our restaurant and training kitchens. They plan to continue adapting University courses to incorporate the best industry frameworks, ensuring that students are equipped to be the sustainability-conscious leaders the industry needs. “Collaborating with our community will remain a priority as we seek new partnerships and avenues to drive positive change,” Peter finishes. “Engaging our customers in sustainability education will continue to be at the forefront of our efforts, as we strive to create a more sustainable future for the hospitality industry.”
To read more about University of West London, visit their website. Read more about how the Food Made Good Standard can benefit your business here, or sign up to get started on your own sustainability journey!
Interested in a deeper dive into the importance of restaurants within their communities? Click here!
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