Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 74.49
Liaison Mary Easterling
Submission Date Dec. 17, 2020

STARS v2.2

Pennsylvania State University
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 David Cullmer
Sustainable Operations Analyst
Sustainability Institute
"---" 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?:
Yes

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

The Penn State Student Farm operates a CSA program in summer and fall open to students, faculty, and staff. Penn State also hosts a Community Garden on campus, open to students, faculty, staff and community members. The garden is run by the Community Garden student club.


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?:
No

A brief description of the sustainability-themed food outlet:
---

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?:
Yes

A brief description of the support for disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local SMEs:

Yes, Penn State tracks disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local SMEs. Specifically, we support minority, women-owned, and SMEs with the percent breakdown found in the additional documentation.


Estimated percentage of total food and beverage expenditures on products from disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local SMEs:
22.60

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host low impact dining events or promote plant-forward options?:
Yes

A brief description of the low impact dining events and/or plant-forward options:

Annual PA/local meal takes place in the fall to highlight local agriculture. Signage on salad bars and buffet lines denotes when produce in meals comes from our Student Farm. The Registered Dietitian's Office curates an Instagram account posting daily stories of examples of balanced meals from the dining hall, often highlighting and encouraging plant-based options.


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:

"Penn State dining services offers both meatless and vegan options for every meal at all dining commons on campus. An advisory board meets once a semester to ensure that the offerings of meatless and vegan options are meeting the expectations of the vegetarians on campus. The Registered Dietitians, Sustainability Coordinator, and Vegetarian Club, a registered student organization, comprise the advisory board.

Every day we aim to have at least one vegan soup, one vegan entrée, and at least one vegan side on the menu. We have an extensive salad bar with a variety of vegan items, such as tofu, choice of bean, grain salad, choice of roasted vegetable; a fruit selection is also available. Additionally, we offer daily the following: veggie burgers, soy milks, almond milks, rice milk, vegan yogurt and vegan cheese. In Fall 2020, we will begin to offer JUST Egg products, Beyond Burgers, vegan sausage, and vegan pancakes."


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?:
Yes

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

The Office of the Corporate Executive Chef as well as the Registered Dietitian’s office work together to label all items with an entrée card. If the item meets the criteria to be vegan, it has a “V” designation in the left hand corner of the entrée card. If it qualifies as meatless, it will have an “M” in the left hand corner.


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:

Penn State Food Services implemented the Leanpath Food Waste Measurement and Prevention system in January 2019. In just 18 months, reductions of up to 30% have been realized in most locations. An estimated 94 tons of food waste and 594 metric tons of carbon dioxide were avoided in that time. Leanpath provides extensive data about our food waste, online coaching for support, and goal setting modules that maintain a degree of accountability in implementing reduction strategies.


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:

In addition to encouraging portion control an reduced waste through a smaller plate size, one of the five Residential Dining halls piloted trayless dining in Fall 2019. The size of burger patty offered through Residential Dining grill areas was also reduced by 1 oz. to promote a healthier meat portion size and reduce waste.


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:

Excess perishable food inventory is donated to the regional food bank, Central PA Food Bank, at break times (Thanksgiving break, winter break, spring break, summer break). Food is gathered from the five residential dining halls at the Housing and Food Services Bldg Warehouse and picked up centrally by the food bank. HUB Retail Dining and the Creamery also have donated to the food bank. Additionally, the food bank has a network of over 1,000 partners in their service area, including Abba Java Coffeehouse in downtown State College. The partnership with between the food bank and the university allows Abba Java to recover items such as pastries and complete soup/sandwich meals from the two campus Starbucks locations on a weekly basis. Abba Java mostly serves students living downtown, providing a stigma-free environment with study spaces, free wi-fi, free coffee, and free food.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor divert food materials from the landfill, incinerator or sewer for animal feed or industrial uses?:
Yes

A brief description of the food materials diversion program:

The university operates an Oilmatic Oil Recycling System


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:

"Pre-consumer food waste is captured from the five on-campus dining commons, several outlets on campus such as the HUB and Bryce Jordan Center, as well as the hospitality centers (Nittany Lion Inn and Penn Stater) and catering service (Campus Catering). The hospitality employees source separate pre and post consumer food. Food service employees also source separate pre-consumer food.

Food waste is delivered to Penn State’s Organic Materials Processing and Education Center (OMPEC) where it is combined with other organic waste (primarily leaves and landscaping debris) to produce compost, which fulfills campus landscaping and research needs. The OMPEC program was originally developed in 1997 as a collaboration between the College of Agricultural Sciences, Housing and Food Services, Hospitality Services and the Office of Physical Plant. The project has parallel goals of responding to the needs of handling organic residuals generated from within the university and enhancing teaching, research and extension/outreach programs of a land-grant university. "


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:

Post-consumer organic waste is captured in virtually all buildings on campus, including dining, residential, classroom and office buildings. Compost bins, lined with a "green" compostable bag, are provided as part of an array of seven containers where consumers sort their waste into compostables, various types of recyclables, and trash. Compostables are delivered to the University's OMPEC facility, described above.


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:

All dining units default to china and silverware as the first position of service.


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:

Students may obtain, for a $5 deposit, an eco-friendly, reusable box through our Green2Go program, which can be used at any of the five Dining Commons on campus. The box is used for to-go meals, then exchanged for a carabineer, that signifies their participation and active deposit in the program, that can later be exchanged for another container or a refund of their $5 deposit. Dining Services ensures all containers are washed and sanitized before use. The program participation more than doubled over Fall 2019 thanks to a partnership with the Schreyer's Honors College New Student Orientation (SHOtime), individual committment from dining unit directors, and increased student engagement through clubs. Campus-wide use of the Green2Go program went from ~12% of to-go meals in Fall 2018 to ~26% through the Fall 2019.


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?:
Yes

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

Residential dining facilities coffeeshop have reusable "Silipint" coffee mugs for purchase. When individuals bring these reusable beverage containers back, they receive a discounted price ($0.99) on drip coffee. At many of Residential and Retail dining locations, a person can bring their own mug and receive a $0.25 discount.


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

All dining halls serve Halal-certified chicken thighs. PURE Kosher/Allergen-free station has seen significant success since implementation in fall 2017 and serves as a vital resource for students with severe food allergies. New Student Dining Employee promoted position allows student dining employees to further involve themselves in food sustainability in campus dining and engage their colleagues in sustainability as the Sustainability Representative of their dining unit. Five positions were created, one for each dining hall, though some locations have opted to employ more than one sustainability representative. New Sustainability Coordinator position created in Housing and Food Services (filled starting January 2019). The Sustainability Coordinator manages programs such as Leanpath, food recovery/food bank partnerships, and single-use plastic reduction strategies.


Website URL where information about the sustainable dining programs is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

SME and Minority Businesses data was provided by Penn State Housing and Food Services.

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.