Chartwells adopts new policy to use cage-free eggs in dining halls

By Megan Fraser

In a decision praised by the Humane Society of the United States, Northeastern food provider Chartwells is implementing a cage-free policy for the eggs they use.

U.S. factory farms keep about 300 million egg-laying hens in battery cages. These cages provide the space equivalent of less than a single piece of paper, according to an April 9 Humane Society press release.

Chartwells’ decision comes as companies across the country are going cage-free, including Burger King, Whole Foods Market and Ben ‘ Jerry’s.

“Chartwells’ decision is an important advance in the growing movement away from battery cage confinement in the egg industry,” said Paul Shapiro, Factory Farming Campaign director for the Humane Society, the nation’s largest animal protection organization in a release.

In November 2003, the Better Business Bureau ruled eggs from battery-caged hens could not be labeled as “Animal Care Certified.”

The Chartwells policy is being implemented at 37 schools in the Northeast. The company, based out of Charlotte, N.C., provides dining services to more than 225 colleges and universities and could extend the policy to other schools in the future.

Holly Hart, director of marketing and communications for Chartwells’ Higher Education Division, said the decision reflects the values of the students the company serves.

“Chartwells is deeply committed to sustainability, and our students have made it clear that animal welfare is an important concern for them,” Hart said. “This cage-free egg policy is an important step toward demonstrating our commitment to opposing the inhumane treatment of hens confined in cages.”

Senior human services major and Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) member Jesse Jolly said the move toward a cage-free policy was a good stance for the university to take.

As a large institution, Chartwells makes a big statement by adopting the policy, Jolly said.

“Changing how they purchase is not that difficult, and it can make an impact,” Jolly said. “Adopting a policy like that would lead to more advocacy for other areas [like PSA’s fair-trade coffee and tea and workers rights campaigns].”

– Staff writer Jessica Torrez-Riley contributed to this report.

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