Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 75.41
Liaison Dave Newport
Submission Date March 23, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Colorado Boulder
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Nicole Grisham
Sustainability and Food Safety Manager
Housing and Dining Services
"---" 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:

Campus Dining Services (CDS) implements their Sustainable Dining Initiatives (SDI) across all residential dining, retail, and catering programs. These initiatives have been long standing applications formulated into a strategic plan for dining services focused on five primary categories: Energy and Water, Waste Management & Resource Recovery, Outreach & Education, Sourcing & Procurement, and Strategic Partnerships. The SDI is currently being updated as part of our sustainable operations review focused on continuous improvement, innovative applications, and alignment with campus goals. The revised SDI is targeted for release in 2018. Our direction with these updates is shared in the PR section of the University’s submittal and is attached.

The current SDI is attached to this submittal and is located on our website at:
https://living.colorado.edu/dining/food-sourcing-safety.

In addition to the responses below, CDS also supports sustainable food systems by evaluating all new dining facilities for sustainable attributes. This includes instituting sustainable construction practices and achieving LEED building certification, evaluating opportunities to reduce water and energy use, and repairing/replacing current equipment with more sustainable products and applications. Currently two of our largest dining centers are LEED Platinum Certified and Three Star Certified by the Green Restaurant Association.

Recently, CDS also made the list for Good Food 100 and has implemented several changes to its menu items for nutrition and sustainability over the past two years. Many of these menu improvements are noted in the Sourcing and Procurement section of the response on our current SDI in the PR section of the University’s submittal and is attached.


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:

CDS leads a campus wide effort to increase food grown on campus, sourcing of local foods from farms within the community, and collaborating with food partners focused on farm to school, food recovery, and food insecurity initiatives. Through the campus annual Sustainability Summit, the need for a committee focused on increasing food grown on campus was identified. This committee is in action and over the past two years, CDS has chaired this effort. Efforts over this time have increased food grown on campus with the addition of wicking beds, garden plots, and greenhouses. The committee also developed a mission that targeted utilizing the gardens and greenhouses for education, promotion of sustainable food practices, and community building. For example, at the Center for Community Garden a bimonthly educational gathering is held in the garden and hosted by our Chefs who use the ingredients in our menu items. Education includes but is not limited to; what foods are in the garden, the growing climate of Colorado, genealogy and regional applications of the items grown, environmental benefits of growing and local sourcing, culinary applications, etc.


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:

Boulder County hosts a farmer’s market that is in close proximity to the university. Campus Dining Services has collaborated with this operation to promote local sustainable foods over many years. Recent partnership activities include CDS hosting World Food Day on campus and the Director of Operations for the farmer’s market provided an inspirational speech to kick off the event. Additionally, we are working together to seek avenues to procure foods for dining services directly through the market. Currently we have identified the needed information to comply with procurement rules and are coordinating on food needs, source grower, and volume demand.


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:

CDS menu standards require a vegan entrée at every meal and every station in all dining halls. The entrée must have a complete protein, and be an actual entrée, not just a side dish. Our goal is to make plant-based entrees that are healthy, filling, nutritious, and tempting, allowing all customers to opt for this dish, not just vegan or vegetarian customers. Our campus covers a large area with various parts integrated into the surrounding city hence a designated operation would inevitably be difficult for some to enjoy. Utilizing pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds and plant-based protein options like tofu, seitan and tempeh, applied in culturally diverse platforms, allows for a vibrant menu mix that is tempting and fulfilling. Our menu item label identifies nine allergens (Major 8 plus gluten), pork and alcohol to accommodate other dietary and religious needs. Information on our labeling and vegan/vegetarian programs is attached.


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:

Campus Dining Services hosts many low impact dining events throughout the year. A list and brief explanation of these is provided below. The low impact dining approach to customer education at CDS is to promote plant forward diets and reduce food waste. CDS Marketing and Communications utilizes napkin dispenser inserts, digital signage and social media to promote sustainable dining. Local procurement is highlighted in the Featured Produce of the Month events, Harvest Meal (campus wide) and other special events such as Taste of CU.
DISH – This is our overall dining campaign, which promotes Delicious foods produced in Innovative and Sustainable ways with Healthy diets in mind. This campaign is used throughout all sustainability events and we utilize branded marketing materials to bring familiarity with our campaign throughout the year for our customers.

The DISH – This is our customer forum, which complements our campaign. Once a month throughout each semester, we hold a one-hour event that engages open discussion with our Sustainability Manager and our Registered Dietician, along with various guests with expertise on our various topics. Each forum focuses on a different letter of our campaign, covering all of DISH each semester. These are very popular and are a unique opportunity for us to engage with the students at a time in life where they are gaining independence and forming their dietary and sustainable habits. Events include but are not limited to starting a seed pot for your garden, building a well balance protein bowl, and taking a tour of our newest dining center focusing on the aspects that helped achieve LEED platinum certification.

Sustainability and Nutrition Week – This occurs the opening week of fall semester so that we may create food sustainability and nutrition awareness as soon as possible with our new students. We promote the DISH campaign throughout our operations and hold a tabling event in our largest dining facility, the Center for Community, which serves up to 10,000 customers a day. We utilize marketing, displays, games and prizes to drive the DISH message and entice our customers to want to learn more. In sustainability we focus on the customer interaction with the food sharing information on why plant forward diets are not only more health conscious but help the environment as well, along with the impacts of food waste and how they can reduce their own waste.

Chalkboard Plate Food Waste Messaging – In our all you care to eat dining centers we have created unique food waste messaging utilizing the very same plates customers use to serve themselves. One of our student workers created the chalkboard designs with various simple food waste messages put onto these plates and the plates are strategically placed throughout all you care to eat (AYCTE) facilities where plates are dispensed and where some of the top foods wasted are stationed.

Scrape Your Plate – This is an event focused on post-consumer food waste at our AYCTE facilities. While every day all food waste and compostable items (napkins, compostable to-go items, tea bags, etc.) that is placed into the tray return by customers gets composted, the customers do not see this activity. Three times a semester we bring out compost containers and station sustainability leads at the tray return to assist customers with scraping their own plate and educating on food waste. This event is over 7 years in the making and is a collaborative effort with our campus Environmental Center. At each event, we weigh the food waste and calculate the total poundage along with the pounds/person that is shared via marketing/social media after each event. We use our data to set goals from each event over the semester. This event is well received and customers once seeing the containers full of food waste thank us for all that we do. We educate the customers on only taking what you can eat and if trying something for the first time then take a taster portion as they can always go back for more if they like it.

National Green Week – This is held in March of the spring semester and focuses on food sustainability. We use this event to promote our food procurement practices and the sustainable aspects of our ingredients and menu. Much like Sustainability and Nutrition Week, we market, table, and promote plant-based dishes throughout our operations. This is the event where we draw awareness to the upcoming Colorado growing season and our gardening program that includes participation from the campus CU in the Garden student club.


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:

Campus Dining Services hosts many sustainability-themed meals every day and uses events to promote these throughout the year. A list and brief explanation of these is provided below.

Harvest dinner – A one-night celebration of locally sourced produce incorporated into various menu items throughout all residential dining centers. Sustainability marketing through social media and signage at the point of sale are applied.

Earth Day – A celebration within our Center for Community and extends to sustainable meals featured throughout all of our dining centers. The celebration consists of but is not limited to exhibition of local food vendors, tabling with educational materials, earth trivia/games and an opportunity to get a photo of you holding up the earth. This is a very large blow up earth provided in the middle of our atrium leading into the dining center which has various ethnic food stations including Latin, Italy, Kosher, Persia (Halal), Asia and Sushi. The earth not only gets our customers talking about where they are from but the differences in cuisine and sustainability across the world.

National Food Day – A celebration within our University Memorial Center (aka. Student Union Building) and extends to sustainable meals featured throughout all of our dining centers. The celebration consists of a gathering at our university fountain that serves as an exhibition center for freedom of speech on campus. Students frequently congregate at the fountain on nice days and National Food Day is prime time of year for good weather. There is a welcome from the local farmer’s market, local sustainable food vendors, tabling with educational materials, food trivia/games and live entertainment. This event is in coordination with the student government and the Environmental Board. The event brings awareness to fair trade practices, food security, local food and growing your own food.

Featured menu item week - Throughout the year we have designated weeks where a local menu ingredient is featured. The CDS approach to this program is to focus on local in season produce year round including but not limited to apples, peaches, fresh greens, mushrooms, heirloom potatoes, winter squash and various other root vegetables. Sustainability marketing through social media and signage at the point of sale are applied.

Featured menu item – Throughout the year we have instances where a menu item has an ingredient from one of our gardens or is a new sustainable product we are testing or featuring. CDS also utilizes the Menus of Change in featuring our menu items. The principles of the Menus of Change, including utilizing whole intact grains and putting vegetables to the center of the plate are utilized as menu inspiration. Sustainability marketing through social media and signage at the point of sale are applied.


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:

The Colorado Hearth is a venue in the brand new, LEED platinum dining facility in the Village Center Dining and Community Commons. Every menu item features ingredients that are locally sourced, which is defined as within 250 miles from Boulder.
Additionally CDS has our Go Fresh @ Farrand that features high-quality food items with a focus on 100% natural, local and/or organic. This is a particular challenge in the grab and go environment that has a menu consisting of pizza, sandwiches, and burgers for example. While the burger consists of Never-Ever beef produced locally and cattle that are never treated with hormones or antibiotics, this 2017 school year the burger was switched to an 80/20 blend of the Never-Ever beef and locally produced mushrooms. This mix increases sustainability through the application of the mushrooms, provides improved quality and moisture, and is getting excellent feedback on taste and fulfillment from our customers.


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:

As it relates to all of the sustainable programs noted above, CDS Marketing and Communications utilizes napkin dispenser inserts, digital signage and various forms of social media to promote sustainable dining. Each major building on campus has a large electronic touch screen that helps customers navigate. In our dining centers, these have special links and advertisements to dining events and sustainability messaging. Throughout our dining centers, we have electronic monitors that have constant re-circulating sustainability messaging, chalkboard plates with food waste reduction messaging, and fabric flags identifying organic, natural, and other sustainable products. Additionally, our menu item labels that are posted for the customer identify nine allergens (Major 8 plus gluten), pork and alcohol to accommodate dietary and religious needs. Information on our labeling and vegan/vegetarian programs is attached.


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:

CDS Sustainable Dining Initiatives target this area as one of the most important. The previously mentioned DISH campaign is a large part of our efforts in educational outreach and learning. Through this program, we connect with students and support sustainable food education partnerships. Annually we also present to our EcoReps on food sustainability and CDS operations. The EcoReps are a student sustainability group through residence life who we collaborate with on various events. Our Scrape Your Plate event involves support from another student sustainability group, the Zero Waste Goalies, who pioneered the event with support from the campus Environmental Center.

As part of our campus sustainability leadership a Food Grown on Campus Committee is chaired by CDS and Housing and Dining employs students into their grounds and garden maintenance program. A student led club called CU in the Garden also volunteers in the planting, maintenance and harvesting of our gardens. Other campus sustainability committees in which we participate include but are not limited to the Food Insecurity Committee, Sustainable Communication Collaborators, and Zero Waste Partnership.

CDS also supports many community efforts and participates in sustainability-focused partnerships outside of campus. We participate in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Food-1-1, Food Recovery Coalition and our daily practices support the EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy. Related to food insecurity we support food donations through networks of local partners including but not limited to Harvest for Hope, Attention Homes, Boulder Food Rescue, and Bridge House, which all ensure food gets to disadvantaged populations. We also serve on various committees with the Menus of Change and as part of the update with our Sustainable Dining Initiatives we will be adopting their twenty-four principles for healthy, sustainable, delicious food choices.


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:

The University of Colorado Boulder attracts students from all across the globe. At CDS, we provide ethnic theme stations at all of our AYCTE dining centers. We apply our sustainability initiatives to sourcing and procurement for these themed stations as well. A large portion of the seafood we procure applies to these stations and utilizing the Sea to Table program for these products has received positive feedback. Ethnic stations include but are not limited to Persia Ghaza (Halal), Kosher, Asian Shi Pin, Italian Cibo, Latin Comida, Sushi, Middleterranean, Curry Road and World Plate. CDS also employs a Registered Dietitian who runs a program called Dietitian’s DISH. This program focused on various health and wellness efforts, many of which are executed in coordination with sustainability. Examples of these programs include reducing sugary beverages, national nutrition month and the Blue Zone series.


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:

CDS utilizes LeanPath in its operations at the University Memorial Center (UMC). The UMC is also known as the Student Union and campus student government expressed their desire to have LeanPath implemented when CDS acquired the dining operations two years ago. The operations at the UMC include a large retail dining operation with multiple menu stations, a high volume catering department that is the primary source of catering for campus, and a large production kitchen supporting these operations. Our student sustainability lead coordinates weekly meetings with each operation’s LeanPath champion to review the food waste data and target reduction efforts. This program is in its second year and we continue to evaluate its’ impact for future expansion compared to current food waste collection methods.


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:

CDS employs various menu portioning techniques to reduce post-consumer food waste. Examples include providing pre-portioned/pre-plated servings at stations throughout our AYCTE operations such as Sushi, Black Coats, Toast and the Colorado Hearth. Utensils for customer use are in various sizes and appropriate portions for the food product they are serving.


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:

As noted in responses above, CDS participates on the Food Insecurity Committee on campus and collaborates with the student led Food Recovery Network on food donations. CDS supports food donations through networks of local partners including but not limited to Harvest for Hope, Attention Homes, Boulder Food Rescue, and Bridge House, which all ensure food gets to disadvantaged populations.


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:

All dining centers on campus instill in their operations the EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy. Food waste that is a result of trim waste in our commissary operations is donated to a local farm for feed for animals. Waste cooking oil is treated and used with our biodiesel fleet on campus; however, in our new Village Dining Center the menu was designed to eliminate the use of fryers and hence cooking oil to support healthy and sustainable initiatives.

All other pre and post-compostable items is diverted from landfill and treated at a local commercial composting facility then sold to the public. Unfortunately being so close to the mountains and our bear and mountain lion population, this compost attracts these animals and cannot be used on campus. Campus grounds uses an environmentally friendly chicken waste compost that does not attract these animals.

In our newest dining center, we integrated a Biodigester for treating compostable items much like a water treatment plant. All compostable items from the dining operations, except for compostable to-go containers and flatware, go into the Biodigester via a closed system integrated into the building. The Biodigester processes the compostable waste into a liquid form that is then sent onto the local water treatment plant. In fact, the water treatment plant looks forward to the liquid waste from our Biodigester as it helps their process and reduces the amount of additives they need. We recently won several awards for this innovative option to dealing with compost that reduces pest, sanitary, and other financial and staffing concerns with traditional handling and processing of compost.


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:

As mentioned in the previous questions, all compostable items from all parts of our operations go into a composting program. This includes but is not limited to trim waste, paper towels, waxy cardboard food boxes that cannot go to cardboard recycling, deli papers and bakery sheets.


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:

As mentioned in the previous questions, all compostable items from all parts of our operations go into a composting program. This includes but is not limited to plate waste, paper towels, tea bags, deli papers, and compostable to-go containers and flatware.


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:

CDS utilizes reusable service ware for all of our AYCTE operations. Our Alfred Packer Grill at the UMC also provides reusable service ware for sit down dining and to-go operations. We frequently provide reusable service ware at various catering events held in our conference center and event buildings as well.


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:


CDS provides third party certified compostable containers that are selected in coordination with Eco-cycle who is our compost and recycling vendor. Desserts in our AYCTE operations are an option for to-go and compostable cups and flatware are available. When CDS acquired the Starbucks contract it was top priority to ensure all products going to the customer were compostable and this was achieved with support from our student government and our campus Environmental Center. In our Grab N Go and Catering operations, compostable containers and service ware are also applied. With all catering and special events, CDS operations set up waste containers to get compostable items into compost and achieve Zero Waste. CDS sits on campus committees aimed at expanding the infrastructure on campus to provide more access to compost waste streams. Currently compost waste containers are only available in dining centers, some offices in dining buildings, and recently through the EcoRep program within residence halls in Williams Village, an area of campus removed from main campus.


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:

In our AYCTE operations we encourage customers to bring their reusable beverage container with signage and through providing refillable water stations is all buildings that have a dining center. A reusable cup discount is also available at our retail bakery serving coffee drinks.


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:

CDS works with vendors on ingredient supply to reduce packaging. One example is our current change to Sea To Table sourced seafood. While much fresh seafood is shipped in Styrofoam as a widely accepted material for keeping seafood insulated and at proper temperature, CDS voiced its concern over this use of Styrofoam and this vendor is exploring innovative materials to replace this unsustainable resource. CDS operations also include a central commissary that batch cooks sauces, soups, stews, and other ingredients used in menu development which in turn increases food quality, increases food production efficiency, allows for increased nutrition and sustainability in ingredient sourcing, and reduces overall packaging from sourcing the final product needs from other sources vs. internally producing ourselves.


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.