Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 88.13
Liaison Tonie Miyamoto
Submission Date Nov. 7, 2022

STARS v2.2

Colorado State University
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Mary Liang
Assistant Director of Sustainability
Housing and 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:
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 targeted for residents living on-campus in the Academic Village apartments. Multiple plant beds at the Horticulture Center are available for students to grow produce, complete research on other viable crops, and make decisions on plant purchases. A refrigerator, known as the FREEdge, at the Aggie Village apartments makes some of the produce grown available at no cost to members of the community. CSU Extension supports the Larimer County Farmers Market that takes place in Old Town Fort Collins on Saturdays from May until October. CSU Extension provides education and other engagement opportunities to visitors on topics such as gardening and food preservation. This market consists of 134 vendors from around Fort Collins and Colorado, and in 2020, served nearly 51,000 customers.

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 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. In January 2022, CSU opened a new and permanent Rams Against Hunger Pantry, offering a "client-choice shopping experience", similar to a grocery store. The Pantry will have frozen foods, fresh produce, dairy, and dry and shelf-stable products. Rams Against Hunger also provides a meal swipe program that gives students experiencing food insecurity 60 meal swipes per semester for access to all-you-care-to-eat meals in the dining centers, as well as Marketplaces and Cafes to grab quick meals and snacks. Additionally, technicians from the Larimer County Health District come to campus to help students gain information about Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and other federal benefits to combat food insecurity.

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:
Dining Services procures items from the local Fort Collins community when available. Vendors include the Old Town Spice Shop, Walrus Ice Cream, Gib’s Bagels, American Outdoor Products/Backpacker’s Pantry, Dazbog Coffee, Barista Pro Shop, Revolution Pops & Gelato, Keen One Quinoa, MOR Kombucha, and Sweetwood Smokehouse.

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:
Environmental Eats takes place multiple times a year at the Foundry dining center community kitchen. The program aims to promote more sustainable food choices and to educate the community about different foods and their climate impacts. The hope is that this program will create more enthusiasm for sustainable food choices. With the dining staff, Eco Leaders provide samples of sustainable dishes, while educating residents about the sustainable features through flyers and in-person engagement. The program is also promoted through digital signs, table cards, and integrated into our larger sustainability behavior change campaign 'Eco Actions'. Each Environmental Eats event is a different theme such as on-campus harvested honey, sustainable seafood, tasty insects, legumes, and on-campus grown greens so students can learn about a different sustainable food topic at each event. For the October 2021 event, Environmental Eats collaborated with the Black/ African American Cultural Center, and focused on soul foods with vegan alternatives. The event attracted 115 participants over the two-hour event.

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 all on-campus dining centers. Middle Eastern options include the falafel with lemon-tahini sauce or a quinoa, tabbouleh, and white-bean hummus wrap. Students can also 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 registered dietitian and nutritionist 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 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:
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 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 ensures excess food is kept at a minimum each month. In the case there is excess food, Housing and Dining Services donates the food to the CSU Food Pantry at the end of each week. Food is placed in trays and delivered to the Pantry, who then provides it to the CSU community. This donation process also allows Housing and Dining Services to monitor the quantity of food consumed in each of the dining halls, and evaluate processes after each semester.

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. By eliminating 200,000 trays, dining centers save an estimated 195,000 gallons of water each month, as well as energy savings with dishwashers and sanitizers. 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 additional food.

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:
Housing and Dining Services catering donates all leftover food through the Rams Against Hunger: Food Recovery program at the end of each catered event. A text is sent out to all individuals previously signed up to be on an email list, and receives a 30-minute time window and location to pick up excess food. Members are encouraged to bring their own containers. In FY22, Rams Against Hunger: Food Recovery provided 75 opportunities for CSU community members to pick up excess food that would have otherwise gone to waste. All these events were able to distribute at least half, if not all, of the food and drink available. It is estimated that this programs diverts 75% of food that would otherwise be composted and wasted. Housing and Dining Services also donates prepared, but untouched, food to the CSU Food Pantry each week, to minimize food waste from the dining centers.

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:
All used cooking oil from dining centers is collected and recycled as biodiesel. Dining Services partners with a local company in Denver and recycled 30,336 pounds of used cooking oil in FY21, and since the beginning in 2013, Dining Services has recycled a cumulative amount of 256,961 pounds of cooking oil. The Foundry, our newest dining center on campus, has an ORCA food biodigester. The ORCA uses micro-organisms to break up food, with minimal liquid discharge.

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, whom we named Oscar. 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. During the 2021 fiscal year, Oscar diverted 38,197 pounds of food waste, operating only seven months of the year. Since its beginning in 2011, the composter has diverted nearly 1.5 million pounds of food waste 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 472,000 pounds of pulped food from the landfill in FY21.

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 Eco Actions, the annual on-campus resident sustainability behavioral program, presented by student Eco Leaders.

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 all food containers, to-go cups, lids, straws, and silverware. CSU also provides composting bins at all dining centers, residence halls, and apartments to collect and compost all compostables when the user is done with their meal. These products are composted at the Foothills campus, through the Windrows composting operation. Additionally, in FY20, 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.

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:
Many of the coffee shops on campus provide customers with a financial discount when they bring a reusable container to hold their hot or cold beverages.

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

Website URL where information about the sustainable dining programs 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.