Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 86.82
Liaison Richard Demerjian
Submission Date March 28, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of California, Irvine
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
2.00 / 2.00 Lin Tang
Interim Director
UCI Hospitality & 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:

The UC Sustainable Practices Policy establishes goals in nine areas of sustainable practices: green building, clean energy, transportation, climate protection, sustainable operations, waste reduction and recycling, environmentally preferable purchasing, sustainable foodservice and sustainable water systems.

For Sustainable Food Services, the Policy establishes goals and directives for the areas of: Food Procurement - Each campus and Medical Center foodservice operation shall strive to procure 20% sustainable food products by the year 2020, while maintaining accessibility and affordability for all students and Medical Center foodservice patrons.
Education - Each campus and Medical Center shall provide patrons with access to educational materials that will help support their food choices.
Engagement With External Stakeholders - Campus and Medical Center departments, organizations, groups, and individuals shall engage in activities with their surrounding communities that support common goals regarding sustainable food systems.
Sustainable Operations - Campus and Medical Center foodservice operations shall strive to earn third-party “green business” certifications for sustainable dining operations.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor source food from a campus garden or farm?:
No

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

UCI Wellness organizes two farmers markets at UCI. The UCI Research Park farmers market is held every Thursday and is open to campus employees, students, and the local community. The UCI Medical Center farmers market is held regularly throughout the summer and is also open to campus employees, students, and the local community. Additionally, UCI Hospitality & Dining collaborates with UCI Wellness to put on a farmers market at the annual Wellness and Safety Fair. At the fair, guests can choose locally grown produce and the chefs prepare snacks made from locally grown foods.

UCI Wellness also promotes other local farmers markets on their website: http://www.wellness.uci.edu/farmersmarkets.html

The campus also operates 6 community gardens as laboratories for hands-on sustainability education and local community engagement. These include the Anthill Village Community Garden (99 garden plots), the ASUCI "Ants in Your Plants" Garden located in Arroyo Vista Housing (single large garden without individual plots), Verano Place Community Garden in Verano Place Housing (organic garden), Palo Verde Organic Garden in Palo Verde Housing (30 plots; organic garden), the Sustainable Polyculture Project at the UCI Arboretum, and the UCI Aquaponics Project located at the UCI Arboretum.


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 entrees are available at every meal in all residential dining halls and most retail eateries. All-vegan stations were added at two dining halls on campus in Fall 2015. In 2017, one dining hall expanded its vegan station to include an entree, side, salad, and dessert. All campus eateries are open to all students as well as staff, faculty and off-campus visitors. In addition, a comprehensive line of “grab and go” vegan entrees and other food products are available in campus convenience stores, including hot vegan entrees produced in the dining halls and available at Zot N Go, UCI's largest convenience store on campus. UCI Hospitality & Dining provides a Guide to Vegan & Vegetarian Guide to Eating on Campus, which highlights vegan and vegetarian foods (separately) for both residential and retail eateries. In addition, the residential dining halls feature menus and other signs that specifically highlight vegan and vegetarian foods. The dining halls also offer nondairy milks (soymilk and almond milk).

The Anteatery, one of the dining halls, has a Vegan Hacks chalkboard. This chalkboard gives recipes for students to follow to make their own vegan entree, side, or dessert by combining different ingredients from various stations. Every quarter, we also host vegan hacks events at both dining halls to demonstrate easy hacks.

UCI's peta2 Vegan Report Card is available at: https://www.peta2.com/feature/vegan-college-ranking/college/university-california-irvine/


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:

UCI Hospitality & Dining holds a variety of promotional activities to support being a "Planteater" (as the UCI mascot is the Anteater), and to promote Vegetarian Awareness Month, World Vegan Month, and National Nutrition Month (with an emphasis on the role of plant-based foods in nutrition). UCI Hospitality & Dining also coordinates events with Anteaters for Animals at UCI to educate students about vegan dining and nutrition and to help the club promote its presence on campus. Events include cooking demonstrations, educational games, and sampling days.

UCI Catering also provides educational materials about the carbon footprint and water footprint of food at various events each year in support of events and organizations educating the campus about environmental sustainability. Identifiers displaying the water footprints of foods are also featured in UCI's dining halls daily.


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:

UCI Hospitality & Dining hosts Farm to Fork meals at both of its dining halls, increasing sourcing of locally grown produce and providing additional educational materials about where the campus's locally grown produce (including items that are regularly available) come from.


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:

UCI Hospitality & Dining operates an "Organic Greens To-Go" build-your-own salad location as well as multiple cafes that serve coffees exclusively from ecoGrounds (Fair Trade, USDA Organic and/or Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees). UCI is also working on becoming a Fair Trade University, requiring 2 Fair Trade options in each proprietary location.


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:

Identifiers displaying the water footprints of foods are featured in UCI's dining halls daily. Additionally, UCI Hospitality & Dining features signs on the sneeze guards throughout the dining halls encouraging guests to reduce waste by taking only what they will eat. Both of UCI's dining halls also feature a sustainability communication board, with rotating highlights of sustainability programs and actions students can take. On the sustainability wall, monthly posters educate students on various topics such as: how much water it takes to create a burger, what it means to be vegan, and the importance of finishing your meal.


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:

UCI Hospitality & Dining partners with the UCI Center for Environmental Biology to host Campus as a Living Lab Interns working on projects related to waste minimization and waste diversion in the campus dining program. Additionally, UCI Hospitality & Dining works with the UC Global Food Initiative to host GFI Food Fellows focused on sustainable food-systems projects and research. Dining also hosts 2-3 Social Ecology interns that assist at events focused on sustainability.

UCI Hospitality & Dining has a team of Green Captains from its dining locations who are responsible for educating peers about sustainability within their locations. These Green Captains receive monthly training from a Sustainability Coordinator on topics including sustainable foods, waste diversion & minimization, water & energy conservation and food insecurity. The Green Captains also participate in a quarterly competition based on practices they implement in their respective dining locations.

Additionally, UCI Hospitality & Dining hosts an annual Sustainable Foods Fair during Earth Week, which highlights the many pathways on campus for students, staff and faculty to get involved with sustainable food-systems and the work currently being done. In 2017, UCI Hospitality & Dining's 3rd Annual Sustainable Foods Fair had more than 1,000 attendees and 28 participating organizations (student organizations, departments, community partners and vendors sampling third-party verified sustainable products).


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:

Healthy for Life identifiers and icons are displayed at UCI's dining halls to communicate options that are healthier to students. UCI Hospitality & Dining also partners with UCI Wellness, UCI Student Wellness & Health Promotion, UCI Housing and other campus departments and organizations to hold Cooking Demonstrations with the dining halls' Executive Chefs, teaching students, staff and faculty how to prepare various healthy dishes.

UCI Hospitality & Dining supports UCI Wellness's Wellness Ambassador program, providing educational resources to the Wellness Ambassadors, who are then able to share the information with their respective departments. Wellness Ambassadors include staff and faculty representatives from a variety of campus departments.

UCI Hospitality & Dining has also expanded its offering of internationally inspired entrees since 2015, incorporating dishes based on different regions of the world with different weekly influences.


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:

All pre-consumer food waste is weighed, and food management tools are used to track and address excessive pre-consumer food waste. Both campus dining halls and all campus retail eateries have a pre-consumer food waste collection program. In the kitchens, all pre-consumer food waste is placed into a clear container prior to being added to the campus food composting program. The clear bin is weighed and logged. The dining manager looks at the clear container to determine if the waste could have been minimized. The dining manager coaches the crew on ways to minimize food waste for the future. UCI Hospitality & Dining also does batch cooking to ensure that the correct amount of food is produced for each meal period and avoids overproducing. This year Dining implemented LeanPath technology that helps identify specific areas to minimize waste (expired, trim waste, handling, overproduction, etc.) These techniques have helped to reduce pre-consumer food waste.

The pre-consumer food waste collected at each kitchen is then added to the campus food composting program. Each dining facility has an outside bin dedicated to the collection of this material. In 2016 the campus food composting program was responsible for keeping 719 tons of food scraps out of landfills.


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:

Trays have been eliminated in all dining locations except for use by students who have physical disabilities; trays are available to this group on request. The trayless system reduces waste by encouraging students to take only the food they can hold on one plate and to come back if they want more. Tastings and half portions are encouraged so the students can see if they like the food item before selecting a full portion.

Wiping Out Waste is a bi-quarterly event held in the on-campus dining halls. The purpose of the event is to educate students about the environmental impact of food waste and to empower the students about how they can alter the footprint they leave behind. Students can see directly how much food is wasted in a single meal period. Green Captains also provide students with simple tips to reduce food waste and celebrate successes when students come to the bins with no waste.

In 2013 the first pilot program for a post-consumer food waste program was completed at our Phoenix Grill dining facility. The program consists of a three-bin system for compost, commingled recycling and landfill material. The bins are in both the inside and outside dining area. The bin signs are all in images and at eye level. The program was so succesful that Phoenix Grill is now a certified Zero Waste Facility. This program has been expanded at the East Food Court and BC Cavern. These facilities are not at 95% diversion yet but have significantly improved their diversion rate for post-consumer waste.

In 2016, seven large-scale campus events were conducted as Zero Waste Events. Each event had more than 3,500 people in attendance with food and beverages served. The events feature three bins and student volunteers known as "trash talkers" who stand by the bins and help attendees place items in the correct bins as well as answer questions about the campus recycling program. Each event achieved a 90% or better diversion rate.

In 2015/2016 food composting programs were implemented in student housing in both dorm style and apartment style homes. Each kitchen now has a 3- or 6-gallon compost bin supplied to the residents. Since the start of the student housing food waste collection program we have saw a 67 ton improvement in food waste collection.


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:

UCI Dining works with The Food Donation Connection Network to donate excess, unserved foods to the local community. To ensure that a sustainable balance is made between preparing just the right amount of food and having a minimal amount left over, our knowledgeable food service managers forecast the amount of diners expected for each meal service. This estimate is based on dining traffic and food consumption trends. Dining also donates food to a local organization. In 2017, more than 11,000 pounds was donated.


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:

Dining works with an organization that collects and recycles all fryer oils on campus. All food waste on campus is sent to a facility with an anaerobic digester.


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:

Both campus dining commons and campus restaurants have a pre-consumer food waste collection program. In the kitchens all pre-consumer food waste is placed in a food collection bin and added to the campus food composting program. Each dining facility has a bin dedicated for the collection of this material. In 2015 the campus food composting program was responsible for keeping 667 tons of food scraps out of the landfill.


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:

The post-consumer food waste pilot program at Phoenix Grill was performed over a six-month period and completed in December 2013. The program has been continued and uses a three-bin system (compost, recycle and landfill) both inside and outside, adjacent to the seating area. Bin signs utilize images and are placed at eye level. The Phoenix Grill pilot was so successful that Phoenix Gill was awarded Zero Waste Certification because it operates full time at a 95% or higher diversion rate. This same post-consumer food-waste program is also currently in place at BC Cavern Food Court and at the East Food Court.
The campus newest post consumer food waste program is in place in five of our student housing communities both dorm and apartment style. Each kitchen has a 3-gallon or 6-gallon food compost bin. Size of bin is based on the number of students living in each unit. The composting program in student housing has been a success and has increased the collection of food scraps by 67 tons.


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 dine-in service ware and plate ware at UCI's dining halls are reusable.

UCI Hospitality & Dining also provides 2,000 reusable bottles at the start of each year to meal plan holders and guests. This is to encourage students and staff to bring their reusable bottles with them to the dining halls, as well as other campus dining locations.

UCI Hospitality & Dining also gives away many other reusable-ware "dine-in" items during several campus events, including 1,000 chopstick/knife/sporks, 750 stadium cups and 1,000 “travel-tensil” kits this past year.


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:

Reusable to-go containers/cups are sold at cost at all of the residential dining locations and can be used at all dining halls on campus. In addition, these containers/cups were given to many of our incoming freshman. In total, more than 3,000 students now have reusable to-go containers/cups and are using them. Reusable to-go containers/cups are dropped off for cleaning by our students at all residential dining locations. Any leftover food in the container is deposited in the food waste bins. Students returning containers are re-issued a clean container/cup. This is a hugely successful program. Annually, more than 200,000 disposable to-go containers have been eliminated. To-go containers at Organic Greens to Go are made using recycled content. All to-go containers at other campus dining locations on campus are biodegradable.


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:

Over the last three years, more than 7,500 reusable water bottles were distributed to first-year freshman for re-use in our dining locations.

UCI Hospitality & Dining offers a discount with the use of reusable cups, mugs, bottles, etc. This discount is available for coffee and fountain drinks on campus at locations that offer those beverages. Customers receive 50 cents off of coffee and soda at all locations, except Starbucks. At Starbucks, customers receive 10 cents off for bringing in their own cups.

UCI Hospitality & Dining also offers a Reusable To-Go Program, which allows students to take meals to-go in a reusable to-go container and reusable cup. Students can then exchange the used container or cup for a clean one at any time or exchange it for a Rain Check card for convenience.


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:

Receiptless transactions are implemented at campus dining locations, with receipts available only upon request or where a signature is needed.

Food management tools allow UCI Hospitality & Dining to prevent 15% of food waste through source reduction.

The Wiping Out Waste program has also helped year-to-year waste minimization through better education of employees and managers about portioning and food purchasing.

UCI Hospitality & Dining diverted 120 tons of food waste in 2016 through source reduction by purchase, storage and handling and 41 tons of food waste by avoiding over-preparation and plate waste.


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.