Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 88.14
Liaison Tonie Miyamoto
Submission Date Dec. 6, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Colorado State University
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Kirstie Tedrick
Sustainability Coordinator
Housing & Dining Services
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a published sustainable dining policy?:

A brief description of the sustainable dining policy:

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor source food from a campus garden or farm?:

A brief description of the program to source food from a campus garden or farm:

In 2017, a partnership between the Horticulture Center and Dining Services was formed to grow greens on campus for the Dining Centers. This relationship launched during the 2017 President's picnic, where sandwiches served at the all-campus picnic featured micro romaine lettuce grown in a hydroponic system to reduce water consumption. Since its launch, the Horticulture Center has grown 7,450 pounds of greens to be served in the Dining Centers. Enough greens are now harvested each week to supply several salad bars in the dining centers, as well as some fresh herbs. An herb garden was also added to the newest dining facility on campus, The Foundry, as part of this partnership. The greens are grown as a living lab with Horticulture students, including one paid intern, responsible for seeding, monitoring crops, and harvesting. The intern works with Dining Services each week to weigh greens and manage the invoicing, providing a powerful hands-on learning opportunity for undergraduate students.

Housing and Dining Services supports a student sustainability garden in partnership with the College of Natural Sciences. The agricultural project is located outside Pinon Residential Hall and engages the local community residents. The raised beds are used not only to grow food for the surrounding community, but also as an educational tool for the College of Natural Sciences sustainability floor in Pinon.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host a farmers market, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery program, and/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:

Multiple plant beds at the Horticulture Center are available for students to grow produce and make decisions about which crops to plant. A refrigerator, known as the FREEdge, at Aggie Village makes some of the produce grown available at no cost to members of the community. The FREEdge is the combination of ‘free’ and ‘fridge’ and aims to promote community building, combat food, and nutritional insecurity, and reduce food waste. The purpose behind the FREEdge is to provide nutritious foods as a supplement to students’ preexisting diets and serve as one of many food insecurity initiatives specifically target for residents living on-campus in the AV apartments

CSU Extension supports the Larimer County Farmers Market that takes place in Old Town Fort Collins on Saturdays from May until October. This market consists of 93 vendors from around Fort Collins and Colorado.

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:

CSU offers a wide range of plant-based and vegan meals. Diners can find delicious vegan breads and cookies from the in-house bakeshop, as well as dishes such as kung pao tempeh, Thai vegetable curries, vegan stir-fries with seitan, tempeh, or tofu from the Mongolian Grill. Middle Eastern options include the falafel with lemon-tahini sauce or a quinoa, tabbouleh, and white-bean hummus wrap. Or, students can stick with a new take on an old classic: vegan "chicken" nuggets and vegan veggie hummus wraps and salads.

In addition, the Housing & Dining Services dietician offers vegetarian/vegan nutrition and cooking classes for on-campus students including a plethora of nutrition education within the dining centers centered around eating a balanced vegan/vegetarian diet. In addition, the online dining menu highlights vegan and vegetarian options for each meal period, as do the digital signs in the dining centers, making it easy for students to find and identify vegan and vegetarian options.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host low impact dining events (e.g. Meatless Mondays)?:

A brief description of the low impact dining events:

Environmental Eats takes place multiple times a year at the Foundry Dining Center. The aim is to promote more sustainable food choices and to spread knowledge and information about different foods and their impacts. The hope is that this program will create more enthusiasm for sustainable food choices. The Eco Leaders program collaborates with dining staff to promote the campaign by providing samples of dishes as well as Environmental Eats stickers. The program is also promoted through digital signs, table cards, and integrated into our larger sustainability behavior change campaign Green Warrior.

Each Environmental Eats event has a different theme like blended burgers, on-campus harvested honey, sustainable seafood, on-campus grown greens, etc. so students learn about a different sustainable food topic at each event.

For the September 10, 2019 event, 95 students attended the event while 484 students participated in the Instagram poll on whether they prefer a blended burger or a generic all-beef burger.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host sustainability-themed meals (e.g. local harvest dinners)?:

A brief description of the sustainability-themed meals:

In the fall of each year, when the largest quantity of local foods are available from Colorado farmers, the Durrell Dining Center hosts Colorado Harvest; A Local Feast. This dinner features local dishes as well as promotes the benefits to eating local foods. The most recent event, held on October 2, 2019, featured the following menu items:

BACON from Ram Country Meats in Fort Collins, CO
LAMB from Superior Farms in Denver, CO
PASTA from Pappardelle’s in Denver, CO
DAIRY PRODUCTS from Morning Fresh Dairy in Bellvue, CO
GOAT CHEESE from Jumping Good Goat Dairy in Buena Vista, CO
MUSHROOMS from Hazel Dell Mushrooms in Fort Collins, CO
QUINOA from Keen One Quinoa in Boulder, CO
PRODUCE including PEACHES from Palisade, CO and CORN from Olathe, CO

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:

Rams Against Hunger is a program run by SLiCE that is focused on food security and social sustainability. In partnership with the Larimer County Food Bank, the Larimer County Health District, and various departments on campus, this program serves as emergency food relief for Colorado State University undergraduate students experiencing food insecurity. Food insecurity is broadly defined as “the state of being without reliable access to sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.” Indicators of food insecurity include skipping meals due to lack of financial resources, cutting the size of meals due to lack of financial resources, experiencing hunger but not eating, the inability to afford balanced meals, and/or running out of food at the end of a pay period. Programs run by Rams Against Hunger include a monthly mobile food pantry (with donations from the Larimer County Food Bank) in which CSU students and staff can get up to 20 pounds of food with a valid CSU ID.

Rams Against Hunger also provides a meal swipe program that gives students experiencing food insecurity 75 meal swipes per semester for access to all-you-care-to-eat meals in the dining centers. Additionally, technicians from the Larimer County Health District come to campus to help students gain eligibility for Food Stamps and other federal benefits to combat food insecurity.

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

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

Every item at the dining centers and online is marked to distinguish vegetarian items, on campus grown items, vegan items, gluten free items, and eat-well items. Foods that fall under the Earth-Friendly label (Colorado Proud, CSU Grown, or third-party certified) are also labeled on all menus and digital signs making it easy for students to find and identify plant-based and sustainable menu items.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor engage in outreach efforts to support learning and research about sustainable food systems?:

A brief description of the outreach efforts to support learning and research about sustainable food systems:

We have an organic agriculture program on campus that has been in existence for 15 years. This program educates students about how to grow organic food and how organic regulations affect this. Students are responsible for growing a full row of crops organically and are graded based on yields and quality. A vital part of the program is the required internship that gives students first-hand experience working in organic agricultural production or marketing in Fort Collins. More information: https://organic.agsci.colostate.edu/

Additionally, different events are hosted by the Eco Leaders including Green Warrior, and hall and apartment programming. Many of these events and campaigns address learning more about sustainable food systems. One program hosts cooking events in the on-campus apartments Aggie Village. This program is open to anyone who wants to attend, and the dinners include conversations on how to be sustainable (choosing local and organic, utilizing farmers' markets, knowing the seasonality of produce, etc.) when it comes to food choices. Some examples include ‘Healthy Cooking on a Budget,’ ‘Sushi Night,’ ‘Pizza Time,’ ‘Mason Jar Meals,’ and ‘Healthy Cooking on the Go.’

The Environmental Eats Program aims to promote more sustainable food choices and to spread knowledge and information about different foods and their impacts. The hope is that this program will create more enthusiasm for sustainable food choices. Themes in the past have included Blended Burgers, Local Honey, and Sustainable Seafood. EcoLeaders engage all who attend and teach about sustainable food systems.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have other sustainability-related initiatives (e.g. health and wellness initiatives, making culturally diverse options available)?:

A brief description of the other sustainability-related dining initiatives:

CSU has a well-known nutritional program. Dieticians are available to students at low to no-cost and the Dining Centers contain “Eat Well” labels and nutritional information online to promote the well-being of students and staff at CSU. Brochures and table cards containing information about eating well are regularly available in the dining halls.

The CSU Dining Centers have a strong tradition of partnering with the Student Diversity Programs and Services offices to host dinners during heritage months including the LatinX dinner, Indigenous Food dinner, and Soul Food dinner. These special meals often feature live music and intentional menus that are developed with the Diversity Office.

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:

CSU's menu management system closely tracks food purchased for meals and makes sure only the quantities needed are brought in and no more.

A Plate Waste Audit is conducted in all dining centers once per semester to educate residents about food waste. Data for the Plate Waste Audit is tracked and has demonstrated every year that students waste less food in the spring. This helps show that education efforts are impacting behavior.

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:

Over 11,000 meals are served every day in CSU dining centers. CSU Dining Centers do not use trays for any of these meals. Not washing and sanitizing over 50,000 trays per week saves an estimated 195,000 gallons of water every month in addition to a reduction in dish-washing chemicals and energy usage.

While our dining centers are all-you-care-eat, food waste is significantly reduced with portion-controlled servings at each venue. Students are welcome to ask for more or return for seconds.

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:

Colorado State donates thousands of pounds a year of food from the dining centers to the Larimer County Food Bank. In FY19 CSU Dining Centers and CSU Mountain Campus donated over 22,000 pounds of food to the Larimer County Food bank. Since 2013, over 380,000 pounds of food have been donated to the Food Bank. A new program called Ram Food Recovery also makes leftover food from catered events available to members of the campus community who are experiencing food insecurity.

Non-perishable food donations are collected from students as part of the Move Out program at the end of the academic year.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor divert food materials from the landfill, incinerator or sewer for animal feed or industrial uses (e.g. converting cooking oil to fuel, on-site anaerobic digestion)?:

A brief description of the food materials diversion program:

Used cooking oil is collected and recycled by a local company to make biodiesel. Approximately 27,000 pounds of cooking oil are collected each year for recycling, and since FY13 over 185,000 pounds of cooking oil have been collected and recycled into biodiesel.

The Foundry, our newest dining center on campus, has an ORCA food digester.

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

A brief description of the pre-consumer composting program:

Pre-consumer food waste is collected at the dining centers and the bake shop.

Housing & Dining Services in 2011 invested in a state of the art, fully-automated composting system called the Earth Flow. This enclosed, 30‐yard capacity compost bin is located on the CSU Foothills Campus (three miles west of Main Campus). Pre-consumer and post-consumer food waste from CSU Dining Centers is composted in the Earth Flow. The Earth Flow accepts up to 2,000 pounds of material per day. Organic waste is loaded into one end of the vessel by placing the collection container on an automated tipper. Every time food waste is added, bulking material like straw, wood chips, and horse manure from the equine center is added at a 1:2 ratio. Material is composted for about four to six weeks inside the vessel. Finished compost is discharged through an end door of the vessel. The compost is piled on site to cure for at least 3-4 weeks before being used in landscaping projects on campus.

In FY19, the CSU Earth Flow Composter diverted 129,720 pounds of food waste from the landfill. Since its beginning in 2011, the composter has diverted 1,471,240 pounds of food from the landfill.

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

A brief description of the post-consumer composting program:

Housing & Dining Services has partnered with Facilities Management to compost all pulped food waste from the dining centers in their windrow composting facility. Each of our major dining centers on campus has a pulper that mixes all of the food and paper waste with water, and then grinds up the material. This slurry is then taken by pipe to a centrifuge, which removes excess water and recycles it back through the system. This pulped material is perfect for composting or anaerobic digestion because it is already broken down into small pieces. The pulpers have helped reduce the waste stream in the dining halls by up to 70% and reduced water use by 80%. This composting operation diverted 324,982 pounds of pulped food from the landfill in FY19.

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:

All dining centers on campus use reusable service ware for dine-in meals and have eliminated disposable straws. Students can get a spork through the Green Warrior program and a limited number of reusable straws are also available at the meal check stations for accessibility needs.

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:

All to-go products are compostable, from a local company called Eco-Products. This includes everything from the compartment food containers, to-go cups, lids, straws, silverware, etc. CSU also provides composting bins at all dining centers, residence halls, and apartments to collect to-go containers and close the loop.

Reusable Rubbermaid containers are available at all dining facilities. Students can check the Rubbermaid containers out at any dining center and return them dirty. Housing & Dining Services takes care of cleaning and restocking them.

Additionally, all on campus residents are given reusable water bottles at the beginning of the year to encourage the utilization of these refillable water bottles at over 100 of our water bottle filling stations. Dining also provides a reusable coffee mug program.

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

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

Many of the coffee shops on campus provide customers with a 10 cent discount when they bring a reusable coffee mug. The Housing & Dining Express counters offer a 50% reusable mug discount for drip coffee.

Has the institution or its primary dining services contractor implemented other materials management initiatives to minimize waste not covered above (e.g. working with vendors and other entities to reduce waste from food packaging)?:

A brief description of other dining services materials management initiatives:

The CSU Live Green Team is sponsored by CSU Housing & Dining Services and consists of students and staff volunteers who wish to make a difference and take environmental action in the dining centers, residence halls and campus community. This team meets once a month and supports sustainable dining events such as Environmental Eats, and volunteers at events such as Cardboard Corrals, Move Out donation program, and RecycleMania. Additionally, volunteers from the Live Green Team support the trash audit conducted on campus each spring as well as the Plate Waste Audit that takes place in the dining centers once in the fall and once in the spring.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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.