Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.42
Liaison Matthew Muchna
Submission Date March 3, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Northern Arizona University
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Catherine Sullivan
Sustainability Specialist: NAU Campus Dining
NAU 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?:

A brief description of the sustainable dining policy:

NAU Campus Dining is developing a campus-specific sustainable food policy to align Northern Arizona University and Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow sustainable sourcing commitments. Sodexo has a local supply measurement tool to create a baseline of sustainable purchasing and works diligently with suppliers to increase food transparency at NAU and increase the local and sustainable purchasing on campus. NAU Campus Dining Directors, campus stakeholders, Campus Service and Activities Director and the Student Dining Committee will work together to develop and maintain "the living document" of the Sustainable Food Policy and determine the timeline for benchmark goals set by the group. The Sustainable Food Policy will outline specific purchasing objectives, nutrition, health and wellness and ethical, environmental stewardship of the dining supply chain. Other sustainability goals relating to waste reduction, water, and energy sustainability and employee and campus engagement will be a part of the policy, however, in the infancy of the system, it will focus on sustainable sourcing primarily.

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

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

Turnip the Greens a fresh salad concept in the University Union is the home of NAU Campus Dining’s hydroponic wall system. Operated by Dining staff the system supplies lettuce for the retail unit and learning laboratory for students in the center of campus.

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?:

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

The Open Air Markets are held every semester on campus since the fall of 2014. The markets highlight fresh, seasonal produce is grown in Arizona as well as local hand-crafted artisan foods from NAU and Northern Arizona. Also, NAU students, staff and faculty have the opportunity to showcase their talents with both still art displays as well as music/performances. With the Open-Air Markets, Campus Dining hopes to bring campus community members together to enjoy our beautiful weather of Flagstaff, while showcasing local foods, crafts, and artists and providing education and awareness on sustainability, health and wellness and community support. For a snapshot of the market quantities from the fall 2015 and spring 2016 markets, 35 varieties of AZ grown produce, including fruit, vegetables, and herbs or 1611 pounds of food was provided to the campus community.

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:

NAU Campus Dining has participated in Meatless Monday since the fall of 2011. At the two major dining halls on campus, there are always vegan and vegetarian options including a designated vegetarian/vegan station within each resident dining hall. Menus items are labeled with icons to identify the vegan and vegetarian options at each platform. Vegan options are also available across the 28 other dining locations and markets throughout campus. The Campus Dining Mobile App allows students to filter searches such as vegan to find all of the Campus Dining options that are vegan across campus in residential and retail locations. New additions to the vegan options on campus include the Superfoods bar which offers fresh grain nutrient-packed salads, homemade hummus, and fresh salad daily has become a vegan favorite also vegan desserts are now available at the Hot Spot resident dining hall. Vegan options are also available at the Open Air Markets, include in-house made sweet bread.

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

A brief description of the low impact dining events:

NAU Campus Dining has participated in Meatless Monday since the fall of 2011. At the two major dining halls on campus, there are always vegan and vegetarian options including a designated vegetarian/vegan station within each resident dining hall.

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

A brief description of the sustainability-themed meals:

Within resident dining a sustainability-themed meal is offered in the fall and spring, Fall Harvest and a week long lunch menu SLOW Food. Both menus highlighted seasonal local, organic produce and made from scratch specialty items, Arizona and Flagstaff made products.

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:

The Green Scene Café offers made-to-order sandwiches, salads, and yogurt parfaits, along with Intelligentsia Coffee and pastries. The Green Scene makes an effort to teach students/customers what type of impact foods can have on the environment. Along with education material, each menu item contains "footprints" representing the CO2 impact that item has (the more footprints it has, the higher the C02 effect). Dine in chinaware is available to reusable to-go containers or compostable packaging to reduce waste. Speciality menu items highlight seasonal and local ingredients used in the unit.

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?:

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

Signage is present in the resident dining locations to bring awareness to our sourcing of Arizona farms. Local, organic labeling is available for our specialty sustainability-themed menus.

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

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

It’s important to engage students on various topics related to our food system here on campus and on a larger scale of influence and impact. Assisting student-initiated projects, strengthen our relationship with the campus organizations and department is important to engage our community on sustainability while creating a learning opportunity for all parties involved. The following projects were launched with several student groups, campus departments, and organizations.

Environmental Sciences ENVI591
o The Science and Management of Greenhouse Gases – Green Scene Café and Green Scene Supple Chain
o Local Beef Procurement in Northern Arizona
School of Earth Science and Environmental Sustainability Undergraduate program

ENVI 408/485
GNEI Retail Waste Internship
Two Food Transparency Student Internship
Student Sustainability Dining Coordinator
Compost Technicians
Farm to Fork Internship

Numerous University College, First Year Seminar Program Staff Liaison work and guest speaking through the fall and spring semesters.

Residence Life Eco-Rep, SHAC: Student Health Advisory Council partnerships on projects: Open-Air Markets, Recycling at Football Tailgates, Earth Week, Sustainability Challenge Week(s) and guest speaking at group meetings and events.

Event Programming:

Earth Week
SLOW Food Week Long Menus
National Sustainability Day
National Food Day
Sustainability Challenge Week(s) – fall and spring
National Water Day
Healthy Living Expo
National Nutrition Month
AZ High Education Conference
Open Air Real Food Real People Markets
World Hunger Day Banquet with Louie's Cupboard
Earth Jam

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)?:

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

NAU Campus Dining partners with NAU Health Promotions on several health, wellness and nutrition programs throughout the academic year. From providing fruit fruits and vegetables for a preventative care VeggieRx program, supporting NAU Fit and NAU Eats programs that teach healthy lifestyle habits and partnering in monthly Mindful sampling in the dining halls, healthy cooking demos, and participating in the annual health events on campus, Health-A-Palozza and Healthy Living Expo. Culturally diverse menus are presented throughout the year with support and collaboration from key campus partnerships to celebrate the many cultures at NAU accurately. Hispanic Heritage, Native American menus, Black History Month, Asian Pacific Islanders, International Week Menus are a few examples.

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:

NAU Dining has diverted pre-consumer food waste through the on-campus compost program, diligently tracking all back of house food waste through the support of LeanPath System; a food waste tracking system and being part of the EPA Food Recovery Challenge. Dining Services has installed SOMAT post-consumer composting system increasing the diversion of food waste from the landfill to 120,000 pounds compost is amended into soil each year on the NAU campus which is donated to on-campus and community gardens. Through the use of these tools and efforts, NAU Campus Dining has seen a significant reduction in food waste and diversion of these materials out of the landfill.

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:

Resident dining halls removed the option for customers to use trays to encourage more mindful eating behaviors, taking one plate at a time and in turn reducing post-consumer food waste in the early 2000’s. Trayless dining also reduces water waste, energy waste, and food waste in our residential dining locations. Every time a meal is served without a tray, a quarter of water, one ounce of food waste, plus the detergent and energy needed for washing trays is saved. NAU Campus Dining Services also coordinates events like “Weigh the Waste” within the resident dining throughout the academic year with First Year Seminar course students to bring awareness to waste reduction specifically post-consumer waste. Students sort and weigh the waste and analyze the post-consumer waste stream for improvements on waste minimization as well as become more empowered as individuals to reduce their waste footprint overall. NAU Athletics with the help of NAU Dining and the Office of Sustainability partake in the EPA Game Day Challenge which encourages football fans to reduce their game day waste.

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:

NAU Campus Dining has given food regularly to the local food banks when the kitchens are closing for extended period of times for holidays and special large scale event catering where a surplus of food occurred, and there was time to coordinate the pick-up. However, the Dining team knew more food could be donated. Through the partnership with the NAU Food Recovery Network, NAU Campus Dining worked with students to find a way to donate more food and on a daily basis. Since the start of the program in October 2014, surplus food has been donated to the Flagstaff Family Food Center and The Mission Food Bank, Monday through Saturday, averaging 1330 lbs per semester. Campus since 2014 has donated 9,318 lbs of food. Campus Dining also funds a Meal Plan Scholarship program – which awarded 11 traditional 14 mpw (meals per week) meal plans to students. Dining also supports Louie’s Cupboard, a food pantry on campus that serves the campus community with annual food drives and matching donation campaigns. Yearly more than 1,600 pounds of food is donated to Louie’s Cupboard through Dining’s efforts.

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)?:

A brief description of the food materials diversion program:

Campus Dining’s used cooking oil is converted into biodiesel by a Camp Verde company, Greener Day. A majority of the biodiesel is used for the Grand Canyon Railway, but a portion is still used on campus to supplement our alternative energy fleet as well as mixture with our gasoline driven buses. Capital Assets and Dining Services began collecting waste oil in June 2009 and produced biodiesel until June of 2010. We manufactured 1800 gallons of fuel for up to 10 shuttle buses during the fall and spring semesters (buses did not run in the summer). In August 2010 Transportation Services met with the outfit Greener Day in Camp Verde. New buses have been added to the Shuttle Services Dept which would be limited to how much fuel we could put on a bus at any one time thus reducing our output. The new buses are only capable of using a B5 blend (5% of bio and 95% ultra low sulfur diesel). Greener Day suggested replacing the collection barrels, collecting the waste oil for NAU dining halls, filtering and drying the oil for biodiesel production and bringing oil to the Motor Pool. This is a great alternative to maximize bio fuel production in northern Arizona, and the process would be less time consuming for the NAU staff.

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

A brief description of the pre-consumer composting program:

For several years the Students for Sustainable Living and Urban Gardening (SSLUG) group on campus has worked with the South Dining Facility (The Düb) to collect pre-consumer food waste to be composted in the SSLUG garden. This compost is then used in the community garden maintained by the same group. The group manages roughly 200 lbs of pre-consumer waste per week to be composted. In the spring of 2012, with the support of NAU Campus Dining and NAU Grounds, a graduate student created the beginnings of the current NAU Compost Program through his master’s research and grant funding. Today the NAU Composting Program is run through NAU Grounds and Campus Services and Activities and amending 200,000 pounds of organic food waste, including pre-consumer and post-consumer compostable material, compostable cups and ground trimmings of grass, tree limbs, pine needles, and leaves.

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

A brief description of the post-consumer composting program:

In 2015 NAU Campus Dining and a group of First Year Seminar students began working on a plan to reduce food waste on campus by adding a post-consumer composting program to the University Union dining hall. NAU was already actively combating food waste on multiple fronts including awareness programs, periodic waste audits, specialized training for staff, output tracking with LeanPath, the EPA Food Recovery Challenge, and Campus Dining’s existing pre-consumer composting program. The post-consumer composting program was seen as the “next step” in food waste reduction based on course research at the undergraduate and graduate level and collaborative meetings with NAU’s Facility Services. Student research concluded that an estimated 700-800 lbs of food waste were being thrown out daily by patrons of the residential dining hall into trash cans at the dish return area. With partial financial support from the Student Green Fund, NAU campus dining operation manages a complete post-consumer processing system using cutting edge technology from SOMAT. These machines work semi-autonomously to pulp, grind, extract, and dehydrate all food waste, napkins, and compostable packaging into a finished sawdust-like material. This technologically advanced process safely "cooks" previously non-compostable items such as meats, oils, cheeses, and even some plastics and is expected to remove at least 100,000 lbs of material from the University Union’s annual waste stream. The dehydrated materials are taken by the NAU Grounds department and combined with pre-consumer food waste, compostable cups from on-campus coffee shops, lawn clippings, leaves, pine needles and horse manure to help with the natural decomposition process. The resulting material is screened into finished soil amendments and used throughout campus on lawns, landscape areas, planter boxes, and the three campus gardens.

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:

Both resident dining locations use all “dine in” service-ware. Additionally, the Green Scene Café customers have the option to use “dine in” plates and silverware if they choose to eat in the café, which a majority of the customer's do, they a served on with a reusable container for “to go” orders. For to-go options at the Green Scene, compostable service ware is provided. Catering offers a full line of compostable products and reusable “dine-in” for events.

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 retail cold beverage cups in the 16 oz. size (which is the size that comes with the meal plan transfers, that are the high volume purchased) are made of compostable materials from Pepsico. NAU Campus Dining provides compostable to-go ware for catering events as well as reusable “Choose to Reuse” green containers for zero waste on-campus box lunches for groups, departments, and the President’s Office’s standing lunch meetings. Retail dining locations accept and encourage customers to bring their cup or mug for reuse. The Green Scene Café offers only compostable to-go containers for their salads and sandwiches including compostable utensils.

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?:

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

A massive BYOC “Bring Your Own Cup” campaign on campus encourages students and customers to remember to bring their own mug when purchasing drinks on campus. Reusable beverage containers can be used at any retail dining location across campus for a $0.50 discount on a drink purchase. At the Green Scene Café reusable to-go sandwich and salad, containers are available for purchase which also come with the incentive of the $0.50 discount each time the container is used.

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)?:

A brief description of other dining services materials management initiatives:

NAU Campus Dining strives to reduce their impact on the environment and reduce consumption of natural resources by employing best practices in the areas of waste minimization (i.e. LeanPath System, NAU Compost Program), energy reduction, and water conservation. Education and outreach to the campus community are also facilitated through a variety of Campus Dining marketing vehicles such as table tents, LCD screen imaging, and special events to encourage reducing waste on campus, relating to food waste, recycling, and how to get involved with such projects on campus.

Other initiatives Campus Dining has implemented to reduce waste that has not already been listed include the “Take A Taste” program encouraging tasting of foods before taking an entire plate, using products (napkins and some containers) made of recycled materials, removing plastic bags and Styrofoam from Dining’s retail services, water refill stations, and the Food Recovery Network.

Take a Taste is a program within resident dining; staff at each platform keeps a small number of portions size samples of the main entrée available for a taste test. Along with the signage “Take A Taste” its primary objective is to encourage customers to try a small sample of the dish before taking a full serving to ensure the least amount of food is wasted. By using recycled materials and nonpetroleum-based products, we are decreasing the amount of virgin materials being harvested and fossil fuels in the production of for disposable ware. A large component of the retail dining is “to-go”. This requires some disposable materials. Dining Services works with their vendors to encourage the use of sustainable products and ensure proper recycling of containers when possible. Campus Dining went Styrofoam free across its retail dining locations in the fall of 2012. Dining went bagless in the fall of 2010, which has annually removed 33,000 plastic bags from the campus supply chain and saved over a ton of carbon in production and disposal of the bags. All of the brown napkins are made of 100% recycled materials. Each case of napkins used in our express dispenser saves 126 gallons of water, one cubic foot of landfill space, and seven gallons of water (compared to virgin fiber products). Express napkin dispensers make it easy for you to get the napkins you need while reducing the number used and wasted, saving valuable natural resources.

Filtered water refill stations are available in both the University Union and the du Bois Center. Several other hydration/water bottle fill stations have been installed in various buildings on campus. These stations encourage the use of reusable containers instead of buying individually bottled water.

Student’s established the NAU Food Recovery Network which is a national program that empowers students to reduce food waste in their community either on campus with their Dining halls, local grocery stores, and restaurants. NAU Food Recovery Network began daily pick ups of hot, cooled, and frozen food from campus in October 2014. Since the establishment of the partnership, NAU Campus Dining and the Food Recovery Network have donated over 8,000 pounds of food!
Northern Arizona University Campus Dining’s prioritizes it’s waste minimization program across its operations using the reduce, reuse and recycle principles. Northern Arizona University, through its Sodexo partnership, is the first university to establish a Food Recovery Network chapter, and install an advance post-consumer compost system in resident dining to double diversion rates from the landfill. Northern Arizona University has been a case study and presenter for the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge to share best practices for waste reduction nationally for their work with waste reduction with LeanPath, on-site composting, education, and training for customers and staff and their food donations efforts. A reusable container for on-campus catered events, and “BYOC” or Bring Your Own Cup program which incentivizes customers with a 50 cent discount reduce single-use packaging waste.

Milestone accomplishments include:
· Eliminating single-use plastic bags from the dining operations 33,000 bags in 2010
· Signed on to the EPA Food Recovery Challenge 2012
o Annual benchmark goals for reduction in waste
o Certificate of Excellence in 2015
· Launched LeanPath food waste tracking saw 20% reduction in pre-consumer food waste
· Removing Styrofoam from retail and catering offerings in fall 2013
· Food Recovery Network donated 7,400 lbs over the past two 2014 and 2015 academic school years
· EPA Game Day Challenge participation
o Now all home games have green concession operations!
· Annually composting rates has increased with post-consumer system.

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

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