The Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) inaugural symposium on Food, Energy & Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry last week was opened by Waterford Mayor, Mr Pat Hayes.
The Mayor highlighted the importance of WIT students’ contribution to the development and future prosperity of the SE region. “We all need to behave in an environmentally sustainable way,” he said. “Most people are not aware that one third of all food bought ends up in the bin. It’s up to well-educated students like you to teach others to change their behaviour”. He concluded the opening ceremony by cutting the ribbon and welcoming restaurateurs, hoteliers, students and the general public to the event.
The symposium centred on an indoor food market showcasing a variety of artisan food producers in the South East region. Exhibitors included the East Waterford Bee Keepers Association (Dunhill Honey), Irish Piedmontese Beef (an Irish Artisan producer of low fat, low cholesterol beef) and Tastefully Yours, an award winning chutney and relish company from Dunhill in Waterford. Other exhibitors included, Metalman Brewing Company, Con Trass Orchard, M&D Bakery (the supreme Waterford Blaa baker) and the celebrated Ardkeen Quality Food Store.
Attendees got an opportunity to test drive the Renault Z.E range of electric cars and vans which offer fuel economy and a silent driving experience as they are 100% electric and students showcased their final pieces of course work on sustainable practices in a ‘pop up’ poster art gallery overlooked by organically reared chickens and piglets!
According to Lorain Walsh, event organiser and lecturer at WIT, “We are delighted that the idea of sustainable food is being embraced by industry in the South East and this event is testament to that. In organising the event, we also wanted to add value to the educational experiences and personal development of our students. Students benefitted, not only by helping in the organisation of the event itself, but also by truly understanding the importance of locally sourced food to the local and national economy”.
Guest exhibitors included key industry stakeholders, represented by Mr Maurice Bergin- Green Hospitality Awards Programme, Dr Susan Steele - Seafood Development Centre (BIM), Ms Odile Le Bolloch - Environmental Protection Agency ‘Stop Food Waste Programme’, Brian Scannell - Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Peter Duggan – Bord BIA, Ms Ruth Hegarty - Euro Toque Ireland, Java Republic Fair Trade Coffee with many more.
Mr. Ray Cullen, Head of Department of Languages, Tourism and Hospitality at WIT thanked all who contributed to the event and had supported students’ endeavours in highlighting the importance of sustainable practices to the general public.