Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 58.19
Liaison Emma Blandford
Submission Date March 2, 2021

STARS v2.2

Georgia Institute of Technology
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Anne Rogers
Sustainability Program & Portfolio Manager
Office of Campus Sustainability
"---" 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:
Georgia Tech run a bi-weekly community market whereby local food, beverage, community groups, and produce vendors interact with the Georgia Tech community.

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:
“True Balance” is a dining outlet that focuses on accessibility by providing allergen free , plant-forward, and sustainable dining options. While this dining concept is available at many Aramark-contracted locations, Georgia Tech Dining’s West Village location has been oriented on sustainable practices through the collaborative efforts of our RD and Sustainability Coordinator. All meals and desserts are served in 100% compostable packaging, with customer facing compost bins location directly adjacent to the dining facility. The two week menu rotation incorporates local, sustainably produced fruit and vegetables, and emphasizes well balanced, plant forward options. As the seasons change, so do the menus, allowing the majority of students, even those with severe food allergies, to have access to fresh, delicious and sustainable meals. Local/sustainable produce has included: zucchini, squash, onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, apples, and more.

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:
We work with The Common Market SE and other vendors to identify and prioritize purchases from groups listed above. When buying locally, we review the product/farm availability provided by The Common Market, and identify farms that align with the categories above. In addition to our dining halls, our Catering Director works closely with our Sustainability Coordinator when bringing in new or specialty vendors for catering, reviewing current and potential providers and prioritizing the support of disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and small/medium sized enterprises.

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:
We host weekly sustainability/low impact dining events as part of our “Farm Fresh Friday” series. Every Friday, we feature local and sustainable products, plant forward options, or other sustainable samplings to engage students and spread awareness of the local and global impact of our dining choices. When serving in disposable containers, 100% compostable packaging is used, with composting services available for disposal onsite.

We have integrated sustainability into many large scale dining and collaborative Institutional events such as: President Cabrera’s Investiture celebration (zero waste water service), 2019 Bi-annual Fall Midnight Breakfast (Zero waste Event, 95%+ diversion rate with 100% compostable materials provided to guests), ongoing Zero waste catering event options (available upon request), 2019 “Vegtober” fest (a Vegan/Vegetarian Dining Hall takeover featuring over 600 pounds of local and sustainably grown produce), and more.

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:
Georgia Tech Dining Services offers an extensive number of vegan and vegetarian dining options. Our culinary staff uses innovative ingredients, spices and flavors to create a robust and flavorful vegan and vegetarian-friendly menu. All dining halls on campus offer vegan options. The vegan options are labeled on menu cards to allow students to identify which items are and are not vegan/vegetarian. A few samples of our menu offerings include: Locally-produced veggie burgers with local tomatoes/pickles and a seasonal side salad, falafel gyros with hummus, veggies and quinoa tabouli, and curried chickpea stew with brown rice and fresh fruit. Similar to our regular menus, items change throughout the year based on feedback from guests (we have a large population of students who are vegan or vegetarian, and want to ensure our offerings are the best possible fit for our campus community) as well as the changing of the seasons.

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:
We currently have signage in our dining halls that speaks to our commitment to sustainable practices such as: waste prevention, our comprehensive composting program, promoting and providing plant based dining options, etc. This spring, large graphic signs were installed at the dish returns at Brittain and North Avenue (two of our four primary dining facilities) that provide guests with a custom, step by step visual story of how food waste is collected, composted and ultimately returned to the soil, free of charge, throughout metro Atlanta. At all “Farm Fresh Friday” events (held in our dining halls), we provide signage on the product, the farmer who produced it and what makes it a sustainable dining option.

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:
We work closely with our BOH associates to train them on proper prep, holding, and serving techniques to prevent unnecessary waste. Our comprehensive composting system allows for easy and frequent BOH waste audits to ensure all food waste is being properly disposed of and appropriately prepped to maximize the use of the produce or product. We also host regular “Weigh the Waste” audits/events to identify current post-consumer waste averages by facility. These events engage the GT community on the impact of food waste, the steps we’ve taken to maximize our diversion rates, and what guests can do to prevent waste when dining on campus or at home.

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:
Georgia Tech transitioned to trayless dining in 2007.

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:
Georgia Tech Dining works closely with GT student Food Recovery volunteers to supply our campus food pantry, Klemis Kitchen, with individually packed meals that have been donated from our on-campus dining facilities. This partnership allows us to directly increase the accessibility of fresh, wholesome meals to students who are experiencing food insecurity.

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 of our dining halls participate in a fryer oil recycling program, partnering with a local organization to convert our spent fryer oil into biofuel.

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

A brief description of the pre-consumer composting program:
We have continued the composting program in place by the previous contractors, and partnered with CompostNow in September 2019 to divert food waste and compostable containers from landfills. Through CompostNow, 100% of the finished compost is then donated to local community farms and school gardens, with 200 lbs returning for use on Georgia Tech’s campus each year. All compostable food waste and materials are collected by our associates during prep and service, and stored in the designated Compost Now 35 gallon bins. Once full, these bins are rolled out to our loading docks where they are serviced 5x a week during standard semester operations. All residential Dining locations participate in BOH composting.

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

A brief description of the post-consumer composting program:
Post-consumer composting is available at West Village and Rising Roll, Brittain and North Avenue began post-consumer compost collections in spring of 2020. The collection process varies by location, West Village features guest-facing bins with visual graphics to aid in minimizing contamination, while Brittan and North Avenue sort post-consumer food waste from dishes returned to the conveyor. Guest facing bins collect compostable packaging, and are stored in 65 gal. bins that are serviced on our back docks. BOH post-consumer collections are streamlined with the 35 gal. prep bins and are stored and serviced in the same manner.

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:
Reusable service ware is available in our residential dining halls: Brittain and North Avenue, and traditionally include: plates, bowls, utensils, cups, etc.

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:
Our re-usable to box program launched in the fall semester of 2019, and offered our guests a great way to enjoy a meal on-the-go while diverting single-use packaging from landfills at both of our all-you-care-to-eat dining facilities. Guests could opt in for a one time fee of $5 at Brittain or North Avenue, and their membership could be used interchangeably between locations. After using the containers, we asked that guests rinse and return their containers to the welcome desk where they can choose to receive a fresh box or a carabiner to keep for future use. We also provided all in house grab and go options in compostable containers, with compostable serviceware available to go.

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:
Starbucks locations on campus offers discount for customers who bring reusable mugs/containers for drinks.

A brief description of other sustainability-related initiatives not covered above:
We host regular meetings with SGA and student representatives to gain feedback on dining options. As a new vendor, this allowed us to orient menu changes and new concepts with respect to our campus community, applying feedback from students that they would like to see more plant-forward, non meat substitute dining options that reflect the cultural diversity of our campus. This feedback allowed us to open a new location (Republic of Spice) and adjust our vegan menus across campus to prioritize flavorful plant-based offerings over meat substitutes.

We support the efforts of the Kendeda building rooftop garden, a space dedicated to feeding our community that provides regular donations to the Klemis Kitchen pantry.

We worked closely with the Common Market SE to increase the amount of GAP certified producers within their local farmer network (a requirement for Aramark purchasing). With pre-existing grant funding, CMSE was able to financially support and engage their growers in participating in GAP certification, increasing our ability to buy locally and increasing their farmer’s capacity to sell to larger institutional dining settings.

All Dining Ambassadors (generally 5-7 per semester) are cross trained in sustainability and rotate through supporting various sustainability events, audits and tabling/sampling opportunities.

We host GT Community Market sustainability mini-events at the GT Dining booth where we sample local, sustainable and/or plant forward foods. This spring, we hosted a celebration of “National Pulse Day” by highlighting chickpeas and locally-grown blackeyed peas in a sampling of our chef’s signature hummus. While preparing samples for guests, we had the opportunity to engage with students, sharing about the personal and global health benefits of a plant-forward diet that is rich in plant-based protein.

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.