Tech hosts Earth Day Dinner | News, Sports, Jobs

Garrett Neese / Daily Mining Gazette Xavier Kriege, a member of Keweenaw Youth for Climate Action, gets a black bean burger during the second annual Earth Day Dinner organized by Michigan Technological University’s Sustainability Demonstration House.

HOUGHTON – Friday’s dinner for some Michigan Technological University students was a lesson in how to reduce its environmental impact without skimping on taste.

For the second year, Tech’s Sustainability Demonstration House held an Earth Day Dinner with plant-based foods. Located at the McNair Hall dining room, it also diverted 100% of the plant and paper waste from the landfill, which instead goes to a local farm, said SDH member Kendra Lachchik.

Last year, Jill Patterson, dining manager at McNair Hall, asked Lachcik about doing something for Earth Day. What Patterson had figured would just involve an informational table grew to involve a whole menu.

Students from SDH and other campus groups help prepare the foods.

“They come in all week long, about four hours a night, and we let them make most of the stuff,” Patterson said. “Then we just cook it all off what they’ve prepped.”

This year’s dinner included two kinds of vegan quesadillas, biryani with rice, and burgers with black bean, vegan chicken or portobello mushroom patties. Lachchik said. Food was chosen to expose people to a mix of cuisine and also work within the dining hall’s resources.

“We try and have a good spread, while also fitting into what the dining hall normally serves, because there are only so many hot trays and so many cold trays,” Lachchik said.

Many of the COVID restrictions in effect during the previous dinner have been lifted, which allowed them to use regular reusable plates and silverware.

“Last year, we used paperboard and compostable cups that we either composted ourselves or brought to a commercial composter other places, because Houghton does not have any nearby,” she said.

Patterson said there had been a great turnout.

“We’ve served double the amount of people we normally do,” she said.

One of them was Xavier Kriege, a member of Keweenaw Youth for Climate Action.

“In general, I’m a person who tries to live as healthy a lifestyle as I can,” he said. “I know I’m not always the best, so when I have an opportunity to do so, I do it.”

Lachchik will continue organizing the event next year. But the event is something she wants to keep going after she graduates.

“Now that we have the partnership built up, we definitely see it as something we can continue to do in the future,” she said.

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