Feeding the minds and bodies of the next generation. That was the aim when we launched our University and College Sustainability Programme a year ago this week. Read on for details of how it’s made the grade and this significant degree of success has led to a major partnership which should see many more students dining sustainably.

A year ago yesterday we announced details of our new sustainability programme for universities and colleges at The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) annual conference in Liverpool. Reflecting on the launch this week, our Managing Director Mark Linehan, said: “We believed that our programme would be well received by universities and colleges because it provides them not just with a holistic assessment of their whole operation, but also with dedicated ongoing support through our team of experts, to help them go further and do more.”

While we were very optimistic about engaging universities and colleges across the UK, we couldn’t be absolutely sure of the response we’d get. Twelve months on and we’re working with 20. And even more excitingly TUCO, impressed with the programme’s performance over the last year, has now appointed us as its official sustainability programme.

TUCO said it wanted to build on the huge success of the first year of our relationship which has seen the likes of the University of Edinburgh, Aberystwyth University and Plymouth University sign up their entire catering operations. Tens of thousands of students are now able to enjoy a sustainable dining experience and we hope that the partnership with TUCO will see that number increase significantly over the coming years.

Mike Haslin, Chief Operating Officer of TUCO, announced the new initiative at the organisation’s Annual Conference at Imperial College in London, yesterday.

He said: “Sustainability remains a hugely important issue for our members, and indeed the wider catering community. As an organisation we strive to lead the way on finding innovative solutions to the wider challenges – our partnership with the SRA is a key part of this programme.

“It is important to recognise that the challenges faced by the higher education sector in meeting sustainability targets are entirely unique. In developing this unique accreditation model with the SRA we are helping to ensure there is a level playing field for higher education caterers which will not only support those looking to grow their CSR policies but highlight those already doing great work.”

We hosted a really lively Member networking event at the conference where representatives from University of Winchester, St John’s College Cambridge, as well as University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University. It was an excellent opportunity for everyone to discuss their ratings – at various stages of completion – and share some of the challenges they face in matching their sustainability ambitions.

We are really pleased that TUCO has confirmed our model for its official sustainability programme, and together we are confident we can make a big impact and help the sector reach its potential.