Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 62.34
Liaison Christie-Joy Hartman
Submission Date Jan. 27, 2022

STARS v2.2

James Madison University
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Benjamin Rosenberger
Sustainability Coordinator
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:

Farmer's Markets are organized and hosted by Dining Services; students are allowed to use dining dollars and flex in addition to cash and credit. Our Sustainability team works with local vendors to encourage awareness of our local farming and business community as well as education and promotion of these businesses. The Farmer's Market is hosted for eight weeks in both the fall and spring semester. Through our payment system, we give students the opportunity to purchase products with their declining balance. In the fall of 2019 alone, students spent over $23,000 (not including cash or credit card purchases) at the Farmer's Market using their campus currency. This was hosted every Wednesday from September 4th – October 30th. Our Farmers Market was canceled for the spring 2020 semester due to classes being moved online in response to the Coronavirus. The Farmer's Market was running in Fall 2021.

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:

JMU Dining Services has a retail dining location on campus that sources locally whenever possible. The location, Bistro 1908, sources local, 100% grass-fed beef all year round and other local products, when seasonally available from a local food distributor called the Local Food Hub. Bistro 1908 offers vegan and vegetarian burgers sourced from a local vendor, No Bull Burger, as well as serves Blue Ridge Bucha from a local Kombucha company. Bistro 1908 will invite local vendors in throughout the school year to promote their local offerings.

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:

JMU Dining sources a large amount of food from Local Food Hub. This nonprofit organization, located in Charlottesville, VA, works directly with local farms to provide fresh, local food to people throughout Virginia. Dining Services sources numerous items from Local Food Hub, such as local beef, cheese, produce, and kombucha. In 2019, Dining Services purchased $112,263.92 of food from Local Food Hub. The Local Food Hub serves independent and minority farmers, see: https://www.localfoodhub.org

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:

JMU Dining is committed to reducing its carbon footprint through the promotion of low impact dining events. The production of meats and animal by-products are responsible for higher carbon output, greater water usage, and more greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based foods. Dining Services emphasizes change in the dining halls and retail locations by increasing vegetarian/vegan options and promoting a healthy lifestyle. In addition to our existing Meatless Monday events, we now also promote low-impact options every day. On January 21st, 2020 we began a series of events called “Try This!” where we feature a plant-forward or plant-based item for guests to try. We engage in conversation about the benefits of eating a plant-forward diet, both for personal health and the environment. This ran through March 3, 2020 until in-person courses were interrupted by the worldwide pandemic. Plant-Forward promotion occurred in Fall 2021 on Instagram.

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:

Residential dining offers meatless chicken, meatless beefy crumbles, and vegan garden burgers for lunch and dinner daily. Both E-Hall and D-Hall residential locations offer rotation vegan entrees that incorporate tofu, meatless chicken, meatless beefy crumbles and hummus as the complete protein as well as a station dedicated entirely to vegan entrees and desserts. Food courts have meatless chicken and hummus available at delis. Retail locations offer many vegan options such as vegan pizza, Beyond burgers, BYO salad stations, and much more. Our grab-and-go program offers vegan options that change every two weeks to offer variety.
Students wanting to learn more about vegan options on campus can meet with our Registered Dietitian to find diverse, complete protein vegan options or utilize our Vegan/ Vegetarian dining guide. The guide highlights all of the vegan and vegetarian options at each location.
In 2020 JMU Dining was graded an A+ by P.E.T.A. on the Vegan Report Card, which is determined by student questionnaires and review of dining hall menus. The overall qualifications and standards they measured by were as follows: at least one vegan entree at every meal, offer nondairy milk, label vegan entrees, label vegan desserts, include a vegan member on its student advisory board, promote vegan options, participate in meatless Mondays, offer an all-vegan station, offer egg/mayo replacements. JMU Dining Services met each of these criteria.

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:

In one main residential dining location we have a sustainability board featuring four 8.5x11 signs and a 24x28 poster holder for events and major campaigns. We also integrate signage within our other poster space across the other locations. Sustainability has its own messaging and social media posts that are integrated with Dining and University initiatives that are shared on social media. Other methods of labeling and signage include sneeze guards and social media campaigns. Additionally, we maintain accurate signs in dining areas which are consistent in appearance and products with the campus signs. Examples of messaging related to low impact food choices and sustainability practices include "Make the Swap from Single Use Plastics," an effort to reduce the use of plastics and single use disposable items, and "Take Only What You Can Eat," an effort to reduce wasted food.

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:

The Food Management Process at Aramark, also known as the 5P Process, is enabled via five basic steps: Plan, Product, Production, Portion and Post Analysis. Successful and repeated achievement of the required activities in each step drives efficiencies that reduce waste, increase the positive social and economic impact of our food operations, and provide safe, high-quality food consistently produced with predictable and repeatable results. JMU Dining participates with Enable and their powerful application to help our organization understand exactly how and why food is being wasted and then take decisive action to achieve real, measurable results. Through Enable’s automated system, we strive to prevent food waste by understanding where inefficiencies occur and how we can eliminate over-preparing food.

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:

JMU implemented trayless dining facilities throughout campus 10 years ago. By eliminating trays, Dining Services has been able to reduce water usage and post-consumer food waste - saving 1/2 gallon per customer at each meal.

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:

JMU Dining Services follows a similar approach in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Food Recovery Hierarchy, with source reduction being the first step to managing a waste stream. Once all unnecessary waste is eliminated, we determine another purpose or reuse the material. If we can no longer use it, then we work with the campus chapter of the Food Recovery Network, a student organization on-campus that takes safe, unused food to be re-purposed and served to those in need. The food is collected and repackaged by students and taken to one of two different locations. They distribute it between Second Home and the Grad Student Community. Second Home is a before and after school program for children K-5 in low-income families that would otherwise be alone at home. The Grad Student Community supplies JMU graduate students with food and supplies. Studies have found that 36% of students in a four-year institution are food insecure (Goldrick-Rab). For academic year 18/19, over 1800 pounds of food were donated, and for the 2019 Fall semester, over 1100 pounds of food were donated, all going directly to the Food Recovery Network. If the material can no longer be used in its current state, we then compost the leftover food. Additionally, we participate in a canned food drive, donating to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

Goldrick-Rab, S., Richardson, J., Schneider, J., Hernandez, A., & Cady, C. (2018). Still Hungry and Homeless in College(Rep.). https://hope4college.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Wisconsin-HOPE-Lab-Still-Hungry-and-Homeless.pdf

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:

In addition to recycling with the university, Dining Services also recycles 100% of used fryer oil in conjunction with Quest Recycling, who diverts the oil into biodiesel and animal feed.

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

A brief description of the pre-consumer composting program:

A comprehensive waste reduction effort at JMU includes composting pre-consumer food waste as well as recycling materials, recycling fryer oil, and water reduction. All pre-consumer food waste is composted or donated, and the waste is extensively tracked through an automated online program called Lean Path that helps us optimize and reduce food waste through categorizing real time waste numbers. We conduct training sessions and provide educational materials around waste reduction.

Clear containers are a staple in all JMU Dining kitchens where dining employees toss in any pre-consumer food waste or compostable material to be composted. Goals are set for dining locations to minimize pre-consumer food waste and areas are held accountable to their performance.

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

A brief description of the post-consumer composting program:

All residential dining locations on JMU’s campus participate in the post-consumer food waste composting process. At the residential dining locations, all leftover food scraps are broken down by a pulper. At two of our retail dining locations, consumers are asked to sort their waste into compost, recycle, and landfill receptacles. Graphics displayed above each bin are there to aid the consumer in the sorting process and reduce compost contamination as much as possible. We find a significant amount of contamination, e.g. non-food items, in the compost bins. This unfortunately means that the materials must be sent to landfill. Many students put incorrect materials in the composting bin, unless an attendant is working the bins and actively instructing students on what goes where.

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 utilized in all residential dining locations. We have a reusable to-go container program. This has been implemented at Market 64, Bistro 1908, Corner Bistro, and Festival. We have a one-for-one trading system in place where guests give us a special branded carabiner in return for a container. Once finished with their container, they return it back in exchange for a carabiner. We have gained over 400 participants in the previous school year, which is an increase of 300% over PY.

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:

JMU Dining Services offers compostable to-go containers as well for students to use at retail locations throughout campus. However, only food is accepted in compost bins. The compostable to-go containers are unable to be composted with our partnership programming, but we continue to use them as they breakdown more quickly than plastic.

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:

JMU Dining Services offers incentives for using reusable beverage containers in place of single-use, disposable cups and bottles. We also offer incentives for using our reusable to-go containers.

Reusable beverage containers are accepted in all dining locations on campus, including national brands. As an incentive, a twenty-five cent discount is offered on beverages purchased with a reusable beverage container. We also offer a twenty-five cent discount for use of a reusable to-go container in Market 64, Bistro 1908, Corner Bistro, and Festival.

Additionally, through a partnership with Fill it Forward, JMU Dining Services has implemented a program that uses a sticker with a bar code and a mobile application to provide rewards for using a reusable beverage container. A Fill it Forward sticker is available to all meal plan holders to place on their reusable beverage container, and stickers can be picked up at the cash registers at residential and retail locations. Users can scan the barcode on their sticker after each reuse, including purchasing beverages with a reusable bottle or filling up at water refill stations on campus. Each time the sticker is scanned, a cup of clean water is donated to WaterAid and users accumulate points which can be redeemed on items such as coffee.

Our reusable cup/mug program has been paused due to health and safety restrictions. The cessation of this program took effect on March 16th, 2020. We will continue to monitor policy and review the program when safety standards for consumer ware washing are addressed.

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

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.