Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.10
Liaison Stephen Ellis
Submission Date June 9, 2023

STARS v2.2

Boston University
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Lexie Raczka
Sustainability Director of Dining
Dining Services
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host a farmers market, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery program, or urban agriculture project, or support such a program in the local community?:

A brief description of the farmers market, CSA or urban agriculture project:

FY21: In 2021, Boston University Dining Services partnered with ReVision Urban Farm, a local nonprofit organization and urban farm, to offer a hyper local CSA farm share program. This partnership not only provided members of the BU community with access to fresh, healthy, and locally grown produce, but also helped to support food access in Boston's Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan neighborhoods. Because of COVID-19 we were not able to hold a farmers' market in FY21.

FY22: The Boston University Farmers' Market resumed in the fall of 2021. For eight weeks at the beginning of the fall semester, members of the BU community could meet and purchase from about a dozen local vendors selling produce, baked goods, hummus, dumplings, and more. In 2022, Boston University Dining Services once again partnered with ReVision Urban Farm to offer a hyper local CSA farm share program for memebers of the BU Community.

URLs: https://www.bu.edu/dining/sustainability/csa/ https://www.bu.edu/dining/sustainability/farmers-market/

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host a sustainability-themed food outlet on-site, either independently or in partnership with a contractor or retailer?:

A brief description of the sustainability-themed food outlet:

The Fresh Fuel at Granby Commons dining hall includes two kitchens, one of which is vegan, and a robust salad bar. In addition, nearly all of the menu items served in the entire dining hall have a low carbon footprint.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor support disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through its food and beverage purchasing?:

A brief description of the support for disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local SMEs:

In addition to prioritizing sustainably-produced foods and offering a wide variety of plant-based menu items Boston University Dining Services makes a significant effort to purchase locally grown and processed foods, many of which are from SMEs. We value the variety of benefits that local sourcing can have, including the social and economic impacts on local businesses and communities. We also strive to source from MWBE businesses, in the local Boston area and beyond. We also source from a growing number of vendors that are certified B Corps. We strive to purchase from MWBEs, including SMEs, for both Tier 1 and Tier 2 spend. In FY2021 and FY2022, we sourced additional food products, especially dairy and seafood, that were local to BU but were not necessarily from SMEs.

Estimated percentage of total food and beverage expenditures on products from disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local SMEs:

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host low impact dining events or promote plant-forward options?:

A brief description of the low impact dining events and/or plant-forward options:

FY21: The "Wholesome Roots" program is a menu schedule rotation between our dining halls that focuses on healthy, nutritious and low carbon meals. It's also an opportunity for education through station signs, posters, website and social media postings. No beef or pork is served on these days and the focus is on local produce, sustainable seafood, as well as more vegetarian and vegan options. Wholesome Roots rotates Monday through Wednesday at the different dining halls.

Nonetheless, every day of the week, students can find vegetarian and plant-based options for every meal at each dining hall.

FY22: For the Fall 2021 semester, we sunset the Wholesome Roots program and replaced it with a Climate Friendly labeling program to identify lower impact menu items on the menu during every meal period and at every dining hall.

URL: https://www.bu.edu/dining/sustainability/climate-friendly/

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a vegan dining program that makes diverse, complete-protein vegan options available to every member of the campus community at every meal?:

A brief description of the vegan dining program:

BU Dining Services offers vegan meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner across campus each day. BU Dining Services also offer vegan pizzas, desserts, and deli sandwich options. Extensive trainings are conducted with employees to educate them on plant-based diets. BU Dining Services has separate cooking vessels and utensils for vegan foods to prevent cross contact. Digital menu boards and our website identify vegan menu items with a symbol identifier.

Our Granby Commons dining hall serves both a Kosher and a Vegan menu with food of the highest standards under strict supervision. The menu is a unique blend of innovative concepts that displays fresh, nutritious cooking, local produce, and a full menu comprised of a salad bar, hot and cold vegan options, and desserts.

URL: http://www.bu.edu/dining/nutrition/vegetarian-and-vegan/

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor inform customers about low impact food choices and sustainability practices through labelling and signage in dining halls?:

A brief description of the sustainability labelling and signage in dining halls:

Digital signs, large format banners, and posters highlight: local, Wholesome Roots, plant-forward, vegan and vegetarian, or third-party certified (organic, fair trade, MSC certified) offerings. Additionally, our social media accounts feature sustainability information weekly for "Zero Waste Wednesdays."

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor participate in a competition or commitment program and/or use a food waste prevention system to track and improve its food management practices?:

A brief description of the food recovery competition or commitment program or food waste prevention system:

BU Dining Services employs a number of strategies to prevent food from being wasted, including training our employees on knife skills, adjusting production volumes, serving consistent portions, preparing food to order or in small batches, and repurposing leftover ingredients. We use Leanpath to track and monitor pre-consumer waste in six locations on campus, and track post-consumer waste with Leanpath in the three primary dining halls. The Leanpath units allow us to capture pre-consumer and post-consumer food waste and implement strategies to reduce waste.


Has the institution or its primary dining services contractor implemented trayless dining (in which trays are removed from or not available in dining halls) and/or modified menus/portions to reduce post-consumer food waste?:

A brief description of the trayless dining or modified menu/portion program:

All residential dining halls at Boston University have been trayless since 2008. The majority of food is also made to order and we offer smaller plates and portion sizes for many dishes in our residential dining locations upon request. In addition, Dining Services has an extensive signage and marketing program about food waste in our residential dining halls that educates students and customers alike about food waste.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor donate food that would otherwise go to waste to feed people?:

A brief description of the food donation program:

Dining Services works with three local partners to recover and donate surplus food - Food For Free, Rosie's Place, and Boston University's Student Food Rescue program. Throughout FY21 we donated more than 20,000lbs of food and in FY22 we donated about 8,500lbs of food from our catering operations, retail locations, and residential dining halls.

URL: https://www.bu.edu/dining/sustainability/waste-reduction-diversion/

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor divert food materials from the landfill, incinerator or sewer for animal feed or industrial uses?:

A brief description of the food materials diversion program:

In FY2021, all food waste was collected by Save that Stuff or Waste Management and anaerobically digested.

We collect pre- and post-consumer food waste in a separate stream in all of our dining halls, in our Union Court, and at our Buick St Market. Pre-consumer food waste is collected at every food service kitchen on campus.

Cooking oil is collected at each of our dining sites and picked up regularly by Life Cycle Renewables, a local company that recycles the oil to "zero emission vegetable oil". The oil is then used again for cooking or for fuel.

URL: https://www.bu.edu/dining/sustainability/waste-reduction-diversion/

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a pre-consumer composting program?:

A brief description of the pre-consumer composting program:

BU Dining Services has a pre-consumer food waste collection program that diverts the food waste to anaerobic digestion.

BU Dining Services tracks food products from the moment it enters our facilities to the point at which it is consumed or otherwise disposed. With Leanpath waste tracking we are able to track all pre-consumer waste from participating dining locations and identify why the food was wasted. Each week location specific food waste reports are shared with the Leanpath Champions in each location so the locations can identify areas of improvement whether it be waste reduction, transaction coding, staff participation, etc. Reports are also compiled monthly and quarterly to track BU Dining's progress.

BU's pre-consumer food waste program started in 2008 and has expanded to almost every location on campus. Clear containers are used to collect food trimmings from production waste. Clear containers, along with the weight, helps us analyze the contents of our waste. Barrels are provided as a means of aggregating organic waste for collection for employees to dispose of all organic waste. Each semester, trainings are provided for employees. In FY21, organics were anaerobically digested and sent to the CORe facility in Charlestown, MA for initial processing. In FY22, the majority of food waste and compostables was composted on a farm outside of Boston, and the remaining organic waste was anaerobically digested.

URL: https://www.bu.edu/dining/sustainability/waste-reduction-diversion/

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a post-consumer composting program?:

A brief description of the post-consumer composting program:

BU's post-consumer food waste program started in 2008 in the residential dining halls and since, has spread to retail locations as well in the student union. Universal signs and product identifiers are posted at retail locations with instructions on how to sort waste.

Throughout FY21 meals were served in single-use containers and most students ate outside of the dining halls, so only a fraction of post-consumer food waste from the dining halls was collected in the dining halls. As a result of COVID-19 Dining Services did not conduct waste audits on the composition of post-consumer food waste. Boston University did establish residential food waste collection in two of the largest residential areas on campus to provide students with the opportunity to divert food waste in their residence hall.

In FY22, dine-in service on reusables resumed, allowing us to resume our full in-location post-consumer waste collection and diversion programming. We also resumed our Weigh the Waste programming, and held 36 events over the course of the fall and spring semesters. These events serve as an educational opportunity for students to visualize the collective impact of food waste and provide an opportunity for the dining team to better understand what foods students are wasting and why so we can make changes to portion sizes, recipes, etc.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor utilize reusable service ware for “dine in” meals?:

A brief description of the reusable service ware program:

FY21: In "normal" operations, all four dining halls use reusable dishware exclusively. In the George Sherman Union (GSU) and Bay State Underground (BSU) reusable service ware is available for dine-in and disposable containers are available for an extra cost. Additionally all retail locations selling coffee and tea offer discounts for customers who bring their own mug.

Due to COVID-19 we had to pause the use or reusable dishware across campus. Throughout the entire FY2021 academic year all food was served to-go, and most students ate their meals outside of dining locations.

FY22: We reusemed the use of reusable dishware for dine-in in all residential dining halls and the George Sherman Union food hall in the Fall of 2021. We also switched to reusable dishware at Fuller's Pub, and resumed our BYO mug programs at campus coffee shops.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor provide reusable and/or third party certified compostable containers and service ware for “to-go” meals (in conjunction with an on-site composting program)?:

A brief description of the compostable containers and service ware:

FY21: We used a combination of disposable containers for food; we wanted to make sure that containers would be able to maintain food quality and food safety. Depending on the food, items were primarily packaged in recyclable aluminum containers or BPI-certified compostable containers. Because of supply chain disruptions and challenges there were times when we had to temporarily use additional containers.

To help students properly sort their waste we created a guide with the appropriate waste stream and any additional instructions for the most common single-use items students received from dining locations.

Boston University launched residential food waste collection in two of the primary residential areas on campus.

FY22: With the return of dine-in operations, the quantity of take away meals decreased significantly in FY22. We also resumed our $0.25 disposable surcharge in the GSU fod hall and piloted a reusable container program with Fill it Forward for our Rhetty To Go program in residential dining.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor offer discounts or other incentives to customers who use reusable containers instead of disposable or compostable containers in “to-go” food service operations?:

A brief description of the reusable container discount or incentives program:

FY21: Because of COVID-19 we paused the use of reusable containers on campus throughout FY2021.

FY22: We resumed our BYO mug disounts at coffee locations on campus and resumed our disposable container surcharge at the GSU Food Hall to encourage guests to order their food "for here."

URL: https://www.bu.edu/dining/sustainability/waste-reduction-diversion/

A brief description of other sustainability-related initiatives not covered above:

BU has a very diverse student population, and dining services works to accommodate food preferences such as Halal, Kosher, vegan and vegetarian.
Granby Commons is a completely kosher kitchen and catering service.
Multiple Vegan and vegetarian options are available each day at every location on campus.

The Sargent Choice Healthy Dining program is a joint initiative between dining services and the Sargent School of Nutrition. Every menu item is reviewed by a Sargent nutritionist to calculate all of the nutritional information. This information is available for dining staff and is included in all print and digital signage, as well as on our website. Specific dishes have a Sargent Choice seal on their signage to indicate that the dish meets specific nutritional criteria. Students that opt for Sargent Choice meals are getting a balanced and high-nutritional meal.

Website URL where information about the sustainable dining programs is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

This represents FY2021 and FY2022 BU Metrics.

Because of COVID-19 a number of our sustainability initiatives had to be paused or adjusted in FY2021.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.