Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.76
Liaison Richard Johnson
Submission Date Oct. 13, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Rice University
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Richard Johnson
Director of Sustainability
Facilities Engineering and Planning
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a published sustainable dining policy?:
No

A brief description of the sustainable dining policy:

Though there is not a published sustainable dining policy, Rice is committed to sustainable dining. There is an expectation that the university's dining services maintain the green restaurant certification and a obtain at least 25% of food and beverages from local sources.

All Rice student dining facilities have been certified via the Green Restaurant Association, and our expectation is to maintain those certifications.


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:

Rice Dining works closely with the campus community gardening course and obtain many products - including herbs - from the garden.


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:

Every Tuesday from 3:30 to 6:30 Rice University hosts a farmers market on campus. The Rice University Farmers Market supports activities, goods and services that promote community education about the benefits of eating fresh, locally produced food. Further, chefs at Rice University shop at the market, and three farmers market vendors specifically deliver to campus kitchens on a weekly basis to the campus (Atkinson Farms, Cellars Farms, and Dustin's Eggs).


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:

Vegan (and vegetarian) entrees are available at every meal and the entire dining operation is trans-fat free. Rice is focused on plant-based cuisine. Rice chefs receive training in vegan and plant-based cuisine from an outside expert. Further, over 90 percent of the food served in the campus dining halls is made from scratch on-site.

Menus indicate vegan options and can be found at http://dining.rice.edu/


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:

Farm-to-Fork dinners are offered once per semester in partnership with a student club called Real Food Revolution. The food is prepared by Rice chefs, and at least 85% of the ingredients are procured from the Rice University Farmers Market.

On Mondays, the dining services reduces meat options by about 65-75%. On these days, the main dining lines will only offer meatless options. Certain individuals whose diets require meat consumption (i.e. athletes) have to go to the grill line or ask the kitchen for entrees with meat.


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:

Real Food Revolution, a student organization at Rice that seeks to increase awareness of and appreciation for local, sustainable food, hosts a bi-annual Farm-to-Fork Dinner. With help from Rice Housing and Dining, this dinner is a delicious and low impact dining event. Rice chefs lead the preparation of the meal, and work with students to set the menu. At least 85% of the ingredients are procured from the Rice University Farmers Market.


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:

Four vendors from the Rice Farmer's Market sell items at the campus store in the Rice student center.


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:

Menus are posted daily both in print and online that indicate vegan, vegetarian, gluten, soy, milk, egg, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts. Further, within the menus, Rice Dining identifies local items and farmers market items. Rice Dining also sets out signs about featured farmers market items. Rice Dining also features signage in the dining halls about the plate method (excluding the milk portion, as we disagree with the government's position about including a glass of milk). Rice Dining will also note halal food at some locations.


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:

Rice's primary dining services contractor organizes farm visits for students via the Farmers Market. This often occurs with Real Food Revolution. (See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpnhgeivAWk)
The Rice Farmers Market is a great place for students and the community to learn about sustainable food systems.
There has been significant outreach to Vegans on Campus, in order to ensure that the dining services meet the desires and nutritional requirements of the vegans on campus.

Further, Rice chefs and dining leadership participate in a food panel each fall in ENST 302/SOCI 304, a class led by Rice's sustainability officer. They often regularly assist or even suggest class projects. Earlier in the semester, the head of Housing and Dining talks about sustainability in the kitchens, from approaches to constructing menus to procuring ingredients to equipment selection to the food preparation process to waste handling. This discussion also includes topics related to training as well as hiring and staffing strategies.


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:

Rice University Housing and Dining promotes the Plate Method for student dining. The plate method offers an easy way to visualize a healthy lunch or dinner without having to count calories. It emphasizes the idea that “all foods can fit” as long as they are eaten in proper proportions. Posters of this method are present in the campus serveries to serve as reminders for students.

Rice dining is making a concerted effort to remove salt, saturated fat, and sugar from student meals. For example, one of the chefs has developed a type of Allspice nicknamed "Owlspice" which is used as a salt substitute in all of the serveries in order to reduce the sodium levels of food.

Additionally, students have a wide range of culturally diverse options to choose from for their meals, with serveries featuring options including a Wok bar, Pho, Curry, etc. Serveries will often specialize in different styles of foods at certain mealtimes. For example, one servery features asian cuisine during lunch on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Ambassador Cafe is a service outlet that serves culturally diverse food options to the entire campus community.

Rice dining works diligently with students to help them observe their dietary needs. There are halal options available at every mealtime. Kosher food is made available for the 9-10 students per year who require it, and the chefs work closely to accommodate students observing Passover, Ramadan, etc.


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:

Blast chillers allow the kitchens to re-use food by preventing the food from going to waste. Combi-ovens are used to prevent shrinkage of meats, which results in higher yields.
The serveries do not "sauce" food until it's ready to go out so that it can be reused elsewhere.
At specific (non-peak) meal times the lines are consolidated down to one line. This helps to prevent food waste.
The sustainability director's class ENST 302/SOCI 304 has partnered with student environmental leaders/organizations to host several food waste reduction competitions, with the results of the competition documented in the final group project papers and presentations for the class.


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:

Every campus dining hall uses tray-less dining. The entrees in the line are portioned out to encourage individuals to choose smaller portion sizes.
Rice University dining staff have also reduced plate sizes and portion sizes in the dining halls.
The trayless dining initiative arose from a group project in the sustainability director's ENST 302/SOCI 304 class.


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:

Food is donated at a small scale and to the extent that we can do so in compliance with the City of Houston's health department guidelines. Dried food and canned food that nearing its expiration date is donated.

Rice Housing and Dining staff partnered with a student to donate 146 lbs of food in late 2016 via a charity called Second Servings to
https://sustainability.rice.edu/second-servings Sally's House with the Salvation Army.


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:

There is some collection of cooking oil by students for the creation of biodiesel on-campus, as well as on a larger scale by an outside contractor for conversion to other uses.


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:

At one of the kitchens on campus, compostable food waste is sometimes collected by the chefs. The food waste is stored in special containers designated to be composted instead of trashed with other waste. A local farm will then come and pick up the compostable food to use as on their farm. This is a pilot program with approx. 5 gallons of food waste collected per visit (typically once per week) when the program is operational.
There is also occasional student collection of pre-consumer food-waste via the Rice Urban Agriculture Club as well as the community gardening course.
Rice Coffeehouse grounds go to community gardens.
https://sustainability.rice.edu/food-composting


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a post-consumer composting program?:
No

A brief description of the post-consumer composting program:
---

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:

Rice University relies heavily on reusable service ware for dine in meals. Reusable tumblers, mugs, plates and cutlery are provided to students for reuse at every meal. These are then cleaned and returned for further meals. In addition Rice has tray-less dining. Without trays, the number of dishes that get used are minimized and water is not wasted when used to clean the trays.


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:

Graduate students purchasing food from the Cohen House are provided with the option of a reusable to-go container, which can later be returned for cleaning and/or exchanged with an already cleaned container.
The to-go paper plates are compostable and the to-go containers used in the dining halls are compostable.


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:

Rice Coffeehouse offers discounts for reusable mugs.


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:

95% of Rice food is from scratch-cooking, not pre-packaged. This reduces packaging waste, and the packaging that is used can often be recycled.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support 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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.