Limiting food waste, providing locally farmed and sourced meals and working with students who study food system sustainability issues on projects, dining sustainability manager Piper Fernwey’s work for the cause runs the gamut. But now, she is thinking outside of the box. “More sustainable options, better options.” That’s the tagline of her newest project: a one-of-a-kind soda machine to be placed in the college’s very own dining halls.
Fernwey, who is an employee of Bon Appetit, which provides Denison with its dining experience, is putting more natural drinks in the hands of students. The idea started as a collaboration between her and Ashley Graff ’14, an environmental studies major who completed research about the environmental degradation caused by the Coca-Cola Company. After Graff graduated, Fernwey took the idea and ran with it, with the goal to provide local, sustainable sodas in Denison’s dining halls.
And she has succeeded. Huffman Hall sports an entirely self-contained unit that dispenses fresh local flavors from Simple Products Syrups, such as Summer Strawberry, Coffee Toffee, and Red Raspberry. For those who do not like sugary sodas, these flavors are ideal, and they are a lighter fruit soda option, made from fruit that owner Michael Jaeb grows on his farm in Millersburg, Ohio, only about 50 miles away from Granville.
For others who prefer a more traditional soda taste, the machine also dispenses flavors such as Columbus Cola, Lemon Lime, and Sarsaparilla. These “artisan sodas,” sourced from Columbus’ Rambling House Soda, taste similar to Coca-Cola, Sprite, and Root Beer soft drinks, except they contain absolutely no corn syrup, artificial flavoring, or preservatives. “Not only will this machine provide more soda variety,” said Fernwey, “but they are also much healthier and richer in taste.”