Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 74.09
Liaison Merry Rankin
Submission Date Aug. 30, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Iowa State University
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Karen Rodekamp
Food Stores Manager
ISU Dining
"---" 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:

As a self-operated food service provider at a land-grant institution that began as a Model Farm, ISU Dining is proud to live green.

Whether by decreasing food waste through trayless dining, composting pre- and post-consumer food waste, or providing $.35 discounts at our cafés for reusing a cup, we have a number of sustainable practices throughout our operation. Explore the sustainability section of our website to learn more. If you have questions about sustainability, contact us at dining@iastate.edu, ISUdining on Facebook or @isudining on Twitter.


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:

ISU Dining collaborates with ISU Horticulture Research Farm at the end of the calendar year to determine the growing plans for upcoming academic year. There are consistent purchases of apples due to perennial growth on the farm. Additional crops are then determined based off of ISU Dining’s consistent needs and the abilities of the ISU Horticulture Research Farm. Additional produce is available for purchase when crop research is performed (soil irrigation, tarp coloring/textures, etc).

This year, ISU Dining purchased 8 different crops from the farm.


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:

The University hosts a Local Food Festival: An Adventure in Eating in September. The event features educational displays, samples, recipes using local foods developed by ISU Dining chefs, locally grown and produced products for sale by local producers and ISU clubs, free bike tune-ups and reuseable shopping bags.

https://www.livegreen.iastate.edu/multimedia/local-food-festival/september-2018-dining-green-local-food-festival


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:

Online menus are labeled with vegan and vegetarian symbols to help students easily find those items. Many locations offer create-your-own menu items such as deli sandwiches and salad bars that can also be used by vegan and vegetarian students. Though all locations can accommodate vegan and vegetarian students, a specific vegan/vegetarian station called “Zest” is available in Friley Windows dining center.


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:

The Iowa County Fare: A Celebration of Local Foods was held October 22-25, 2018.

This event was designed to showcase local products and the sustainable impact in purchasing local and supporting local producers. The event included several local producers including:
ISU Horticulture Farm Apples
Maschoff Family Farms Pork
Deardorff Sweet Corn
A variety of vegetables from FarmTable
Beef from Iowa's Best Beef
Old Capitol Foods Tofu and Mayu
Lewright’s Meats Ground Ham
Salama Greenhouse & Floral Tomatoes
Dolan Farms Chicken
Al Lopata Farms Pumpkins
Deal’s Orchard Apples and Cider

ISU Dining also hosts composting information, displays and hands-on learning opportunities showcasing lower impact related to 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:

The Iowa County Fare: A Celebration of Local Foods was held October 22-25, 2018.

This event was designed to showcase local products and the sustainable impact in purchasing local and supporting local producers. The event included several local producers including:
ISU Horticulture Farm Apples
Maschoff Family Farms Pork
Deardorff Sweet Corn
A variety of vegetables from FarmTable
Beef from Iowa's Best Beef
Old Capitol Foods Tofu and Mayu
Lewright’s Meats Ground Ham
Salama Greenhouse & Floral Tomatoes
Dolan Farms Chicken
Al Lopata Farms Pumpkins
Deal’s Orchard Apples and Cider

ISU Dining also hosts composting information, displays and hands-on learning opportunities showcasing lower impact related to food waste.


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:

ZEST at Friley Windows solely features vegan/vegetarian entrees and sides on a daily basis. Conversations Dining also predominantly features vegan/vegetarian dishes.


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:

Labeling and signage informing customers about low impact choices and sustainability practices are found throughout campus dining facilities across campus. Targeted messaging include local purchasing, vegan and vegetarian, cultural and religious options and events and food insecurity.


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:

Iowa State Dining provides an electronic and printed brochure which describes the green initiatives adopted by our dining facilities. These are available for students to take at each dining center, as well as offered during new student orientation.

Outreach also occurs throughout all of the events described within this credit.


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:

Vegan / Vegetarian Menus
Online menus are labeled with vegan and vegetarian symbols to help students easily find those items. Many locations offer create-your-own menu items such as deli sandwiches and salad bars that can also be used by vegan and vegetarian students. Students may the online menus as well as signage in locations and on products to help you find the foods they need. Though all locations can accommodate vegan and vegetarian students, a specific vegan/vegetarian station called “Zest” is available in Friley Windows dining center.

Religious Practice
ISU Dining makes a concerted effort to purchase and prepare items that are suitable for a variety of religious practices.

Students following a kosher diet are encouraged to eat in Union Drive Marketplace. In addition to the many kosher items regularly available, kosher meats and cheeses are available upon request.

ISU Dining also makes concessions for practicing Muslims during Ramadan.

Other Initiatives
ISU is among 70 universities across the country recognized as a FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) institution.

ISU Dining has pursued replacing on-campus franchises with in-house operations resulting in lower costs and more opportunities to provide student employment as well as hands-on experiential learning.

Additionally, ISU Dining is pursuing SNAP approval status.


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:

Food waste is addressed in a number of ways including - trayless dining and "back of the house" composting in residential dining halls, ISU Food Recovery Network (student organization)collection of pre-packaged (past buy by date) food throughout our campus cafes and pre and post-event collection of food waste for composting and food recovery through catering services. Increased and concerted efforts related to portion size are also of focus. In addition, standardized recipes, menu planning and menu forecasting, as well as batch cooking assist in preventing food 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?:
Yes

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

All five of ISU Dining's residential dining centers have been trayless since 2008, reducing food waste by 2,000lbs of food waste weekly.

Portion sizes have been reduced in most ISU Dining offerings within the past 3 years, particularly desserts. As we purchase new plates, circumference is a first thought in terms of food waste/reduction.


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:

ISU Dining partners with Food at First, an Ames-based free meal program for Story County citizens in hunger. Food at First volunteers work with ISU Dining employees to deliver food items from ISU Dining retail and catering service locations to Food at First's local food pantry. Food at First consists of two offerings for those in need: a free meal and a food pantry.

The free meal program serves seven meals per week and is open to anyone who is hungry, no questions asked. Most are evening meals, and all are served at First United Methodist Church in downtown Ames. Food for the program is provided by local grocery stores and food venues. The result? Wonderful, tasty meals for people who need them!

The food pantry takes additional food items and gives them to people who in need them. Distribution happens at the Food at First “Free Market" in Ames. Because the food is perishable, it's collected and given away on the same day.


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:

ISU BioBus is an interdisciplinary entrepreneurial student initiative that recycles waste vegetable oil from ISU campus dining facilities into biodiesel fuel to power the city of Ames' CyRide buses. Biodiesel is a non-toxic, biodegradable alternative to fossil fuels. This biofuel significantly reduces harmful emissions and can be used in virtually any diesel engine with little to no modification. While the overt goal of the organization is to increase environmental sustainability at Iowa State by recycling, the underlying emphasis is to create an experiential learning program to integrate students, faculty, and the community.

The club is currently comprised of a diverse group of students in business, engineering, agricultural, and bio-renewable technology fields, which provides a unique platform for cross-disciplinary learning and sharing while working towards a common goal. The ISU BioBus Club accepts students of all majors and backgrounds. In addition to all that BioBus is currently doing, BioBus and faculty across ISU are also working to design courses to encourage further involvement and learning by students at all levels, through interactive classroom learning.

Iowa State Dining is serviced by DAR PRO solutions, the nation’s leading provider of clean, efficient and sustainable used cooking oil collection and grease trap services.


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:

Food waste produced in food preparation, both for residential dining facilities and catering, is collected and composted at the University Compost Facility. An average of 285 tons of food waste is diverted from landfilling annually through composting.


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:

Food waste from dining centers is collected by scraping waste off plates into collection bins by dining employees. Conscious efforts are made to have all compostable products accessible in the front of the house dining area; no individual packaged sugars, creamers, or plastic stir sticks are available for consumers. One dining center also engages consumers in scraping their plates directly into the compostable collection containers, allowing patrons to directly observe the volume of collective food waste first hand.


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:

Reusable service ware is utilized in all residential dining facilities.


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:

ISU Dining is currently undergoing a complete evaluation of all to-go containers for replacement with more eco-friendly and compostable replacements. Currently converting up to 9 disposable items to a compostable product. This is a constant review as vendors are able to source additional items. This also includes "sleeve containers" for sandwiches and baked goods. In addition, all plastic straws are being replaced throughout campus with compostable straws.


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:

Consumers at all 15 coffee service locations on campus can receive a $.35 discount when their personal mug is utilized. During various events related to sustainability, this incentive will increase to a $.50 savings. This service option is utilized ~35,000 times annually by our customers.


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:

Requirements are in place for our prime food vendor to utilize plastic pallets that are reused daily, exchanging on next days’ delivery (removing the need for wood pallets production and waste.

ISU Dining preferentially chooses bulk packaging when making food purchasing decisions.


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