Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 85.05
Liaison Careen Arsenault
Submission Date March 5, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Cornell University
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Daniel Dosztan
Purchasing Manager
SAS Business Service Center
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

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

A brief description of the sustainable dining policy:

Cornell Dining is committed to the Menus of Change initiative, which outlines 24 principles for making healthy, sustainable, and delicious food choices. Cornell Dining integrates nutrition and public health, environmental stewardship and restoration, and social responsibility into its dining menus, purchases, and more.

https://www.menusofchange.org/principles-resources/moc-principles/

https://scl.cornell.edu/residential-life/dining/eateries-menus/nutrition-special-diets

Story on using Menus of Change principles to reduce sugary drinks on campus:
https://scl.cornell.edu/news-events/news/setting-example-reducing-sugary-drinks-embrace-menus-change-principles
Cornell's Plant-forward, Gluten-free dining facility:
https://www.food-management.com/colleges-universities/cornell-embraces-gluten-free-dining-menus-change-principles


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

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

Cornell Dining purchases the majority of apples and seasonal fruit from the Cornell Orchards. They also purchase the majority of milk, cream, ice cream and bulk yogurt from the Cornell Dairy.


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?:
Yes

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

Dillman Hill is a student run farm on Campus that offers a CSA program.


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?:
Yes

A brief description of the vegan dining program:

One of Cornell Dining’s top priorities is to offer vegan and vegetarian entrees, sides, soups, and grab-n-go items in all of its dining locations. At each of the ten All You Care to Eat (AYCTE) locations, it is a standard to offer a complete protein vegetarian or vegan entrée and side dish at the hot traditional station. Some examples of the vegan options include sweet potato cashew patties, tofu and broccoli stir fry, tempeh scaloppini, and quinoa stuffed peppers. In addition to the hot traditional stations at the AYCTE locations, there is always a vegan or vegetarian soup, and vegan options at the salad bar, grill, and deli including hummus, grilled portobello mushroom, and tomato masala soup. Vegan pizzas are highlighted weekly at North Star dining and vegan desserts are served daily, including vegan pies, vegan cake, vegan puddings, and vegan cookies.
AYCTE locations offer soy, rice, and almond milk as dairy free alternatives.

Cornell Dining also has over 20 retail locations. Each location boasts different vegan items on the menu. In the Spring 2019 semester, vegan pizzas, vegan sandwiches, vegan quesadillas, and vegan pasta bakes have been added to menus at different retail locations.
Examples of vegan options sold at retail operations include: Suzie’s Reuben (a vegan sandwich made with vegan cheese and locally produced seitan), the Atrium Vegetable Wrap (local tofu with a carrot, edamame, and cucumber salad on a wrap) and Poblano Small Planet Burger.

Cornell Dining also offers a number of healthy "grain bars" which over a wide variety of whole grains and legumes. Additionally, whole grains salads, including vegan friendly quinoa, and farro, wheatberries, and bulgur are prepared in vegan and vegetarian ways and sold in grab and go cups at different coffee shops and retail locations.

At Jansen’s Market, one of Cornell Dining’s convenience stores, a Peanut Butter Sandwich Bar is featured. Customers can make their own sandwich with fresh peanut butter, ground on site, with various "toppings" and whole grain bread.

Cornell also serves Impossible Burgers in many of it's a la carte eateries: https://scl.cornell.edu/news-events/news/not-so-impossible-13401-burgers-year-lot-sustainability


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

A brief description of the low impact dining events:

Cornell Dining hosts an annual "Sustainability Dinner" featuring locally sourced and sustainably sourced foods, as well as the Fall Harvest dinner (described below). Additionally, Cornell Dining works with the Food Recovery Network to redistribute leftover food from dinner services to local food shelters in Ithaca. Also, Cornell Dining Student Sustainability Coordinators run weekly food waste audits in all-you-care-to-eat dining halls to quantify food waste and educate students about their individual food waste.


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

A brief description of the sustainability-themed meals:

Each Fall there are several local harvest dinners across campus. Dining units are supported by local vendors who sample local products used in the theme dinners. Marketing supports the event with maps of all the local vendors and items so dining customers know what's on each menu and where the food was sourced.


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?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainability-themed food outlet:

Manndible's Cafe is a centrally-located and frequently accessed sustainable and local-foods eatery located near Cornell's Mann Library. Manndible's opened in 2006 and is served by local farms, CSAs, and purchasing collectives, and strives to implement the highest standards of sustainable and low-waste packaging, food options, and recycling & food recovery. https://www.manndiblecafe.com/

Anabel's Grocery is a student-run sustainable food pantry and grocery. A significant portion of Cornell’s student population is considered food insecure, meaning these students face financial stress in knowing where their next meal will come from occasionally to frequently. Since reopening in Fall 2019, we have made a considerable effort to offer mostly plant-based whole foods. Fresh produce and whole grains are foods desperately missing from the college diet, especially those who are food insecure. You will find a variety of seasonal produce from local farms, frozen fruits and vegetables, bulk whole grains, legumes, and spices, as well as snacks, canned goods, eggs, and dairy and non-dairy options. https://anabelsgrocery.org/


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?:
Yes

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

Marketing provides signage and labeling in Dining Halls that identify many different sustainability practices such as locally raised/sourced, reducing water consumption, menus of change etc.


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

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

Cornell works with internal Food Focus Team, peer institutions. student groups and vendors to research 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)?:
Yes

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

Cornell Dining puts their "Eating Well Apple" logo on menus and signs in dining halls to clearly indicate options that are:
- 100% whole grain
- 100% trans-fat free
- made with only fresh ingredients
- lower in fat, sugar, and salt content

Also, as part of Cornell Dining's purpose to Nourish the Future, students have free access to meet with the Cornell Dining team to discuss how to best navigate the dining hall for specific dietary needs.

https://scl.cornell.edu/residential-life/dining/eateries-menus/nutrition-special-diets


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?:
Yes

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

Cornell Dining works with the Food Recovery Network to donate prepared, perishable food to Loaves and Fishes and other food banks in the Finger Lakes Region. The student organization has been collecting surplus food left over in dining halls since 2014. They now recover food five days a week, and deliver it to the Friendship Donation Network in downtown Ithaca.
https://www.cornellfoodrecoverynetwork.com
https://friendshipdonations.org


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?:
Yes

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

Cornell Dining introduced trayless dining in 2008 to reduce food waste and to conserve electricity and water. Currently nine of the ten All You Care to Eat Dining Facilities practice trayless dining. This 2009 New York Times article cites Cornell as an early campus adopter of the practice: https://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/29/nyregion/29tray.html

Cornell Dining offers a “cook on demand” option, where students can request meals and watch as their food is prepared. For example, some All You Care to Eat Dining Facilities are equiped with an omelet bar, where students choose their own ingredients prior to the omelet’s creation. A similar program is used to make sandwiches, burritos, quesadillas, and salads in Dining’s retail locations.


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

A brief description of the food donation program:

Cornell Dining regularly donates produce and dairy products to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier which services 7 counties in the region. Cornell Dining also works with the Food Recovery Network to donate prepared, perishable food to Loaves and Fishes and other food banks in the Finger Lakes Region.

Cornell University Farms and the Cornell University Orchards donate large amounts of food. However, as this food is grown outside of the STARS institutional boundary the tonnages are not included in the waste diversion metrics.

Additionally, donations are made from the Cornell Orchards. While some of the food is grown within the Cornell STARS boundary, most is grown at the Geneva, NY campus.


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)?:
Yes

A brief description of the food materials diversion program:

Both pre and post consumer food waste is diverted to Farm Services to be composted. 100 % of used fryer oil recycled to an outside firm to be converted to bio-diesel.


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

A brief description of the pre-consumer composting program:

All of Cornell Dining’s pre-consumer food waste is collected in every Dining unit and composted by one of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES) farms, Farm Services. Pre-consumer composting includes all food waste and plant-based products being composted during preparation and cooking before being served to customers, including all produce, dairy, meat trim loss, and any other food products that would not be eaten or salvaged.


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

A brief description of the post-consumer composting program:

The University’s compost facility is operated by CUAES Farm Services. Farm services collects about 837 tons of food scraps and other compostables from 15 dining hall on campus.

Farm Services handles 57 waste streams across campus and composts about 7406 tons of waste annually. In addition to food waste composting, 6377 tons of animal manure and bedding from the School of Veterinary Medicine, the Cornell Dairy program and other animal facilities on campus, and 217 tons of plant material and soil from greenhouses and other plant growth operations on campus are composted at the facility.


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

A brief description of the reusable service ware program:

Cornell Dining utilizes reusable flatware, plates, bowls, cups, and mugs in all "all you can eat" dining areas.


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)?:
Yes

A brief description of the compostable containers and service ware:

All beverage cups and lids utilized by Cornell Dining, and the majority of contracted vendors are compostable. Additionally, all opportunities to purchase compostable "to go" containers are made (eg. paper boxes, compostable sandwich wrappings, paper cookie wraps, compostable salad bowls, etc.). Compost is collected widely across campus and processed on campus at an industrial size compost facility. In addition to compostable "to go" containers, Cornell Dining All You Care To Eat(AYCTE) dining halls offer a reusable plastic to go container that customers can pay for a meal, take the food home, then return the container for cleaning and re-use at a later date.


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?:
Yes

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

Cornell Dining sells reusable mugs at four retail locations. Cornell Dining has a discount refill program. A customer can bring in any reusable mug and get a 45-cent discount per drink. At one retail unit (Martha’s Café), Dining offers a "free coffee" program 5 mornings a week. Most student customers bring their own mugs to this coffee stand, rather than paying 25 cents for a cup.

The Johnson Graduate School of Management has a daily coffee hour where students may obtain coffee at no charge with a reusable mug (disposable cups are not offered - students wishing to participate without a mug need to purchase a disposable cup from the nearby dining facility).


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)?:
Yes

A brief description of other dining services materials management initiatives:

Shrink wrap that is used by our vendors for shipping is returned to the vendor for recycling.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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It is important to note that Cornell gets the majority of it's dairy products from the Cornell Dairy plant that is part of its Campus. Nearly all of the milk, ice cream and bulk yogurt are produced right at Cornell.

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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.