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For the final day of our 3rd annual Coca-Cola Sustainability Summit, we joined Kennesaw State University staff and students to learn more about their Institute for Culinary Sustainability & Hospitality and its role in the future of sustainability.   

Millennial Panel
The Sustainability Summit also hosted a millennial panel at KSU.

“The word sustainability has been a trend, a buzzword.  The next generation will consider it a standard.  It won’t be a popular term. It will be an inevitability.” -Jeff Hattaway, student, KSU

While contributing a reported $16 billion in economic value to Georgia, and an estimated $7 trillion to the U.S. in total, the food and beverage industry is facing serious sustainability issues including energy use, meal travel miles, and food waste in landfills. 

The Institute aims to address these issues and more through a thoughtful mix of curriculum, internships, social service, and hands-on practice.  

One of their learning labs – an on-campus dining hall called The Commons – is an award-winning, LEED gold-certified facility, serving 7,000 guests per day. Menus feature plant-based nutrition, fruits and vegetables provided by KSU’s own farms and herbs grown in hydroponic stations around the facility. Displays at the exits track the amount of food waste composted and diverted from landfills.

“Sustainability is part of who I am. I can’t think of any other way to be.” -Chelseigh Millar, student, KSU (pictured in green shirt above)

Tater the dog at the Summit

To really understand their farm-to-table practice, volunteers from the Summit spent the afternoon learning about sustainable growing practices, planting an apple orchard, and preparing beds for the new student-run community garden.  (Oh, and I’m happy to say, we also had time to play with a very spunky and fully recovered Tater the miracle dog!) 

“When we bring the win-win mindset to larger world issues, we can change people’s perspectives.” -Paul Amend, student, KSU

While debate may linger about many issues, what impressed me about our time at KSU was the shift from conversation to action. There was a clear and palpable spirit of empowerment and collaboration - students and staff, private and public sectors - working together to create positive effects today and for our collective future. 

As we bring our Summit to a close, I want to say thank you again to everyone who joined us. We hope you’ll join us again and continue to make positive change a priority in all things. 


Robin Arielle Torres (@robinarielle) is director of customer marketing at The Coca-Cola Company and is reporting live from Coke's 2014 Sustainability Summit.

Here are Robin's additional blogs from the Summit: