Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 69.70
Liaison Kevin Kirsche
Submission Date June 22, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Georgia
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.80 / 2.00 Kevin Kirsche
Director of Sustainability
Office of Sustainability
"---" 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:

UGA Dining Services collaborates with UGArden Teaching and Demonstration Farm to source fresh herbs from the student-run campus farm. Campus Catering sources produce, grains, and dairy products from the Athens Farmers Market and directly from local farms for specialty catering events including the bi-annual Semester in Review event hosted at the end of each semester.


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:
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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:

UGA Dining Services does work to increase local sourcing initiatives. Examples include Mountain Fresh Farms for dairy products, and New Creation Sodas.


Estimated percentage of total food and beverage expenditures on products from disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local SMEs:
1

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host low impact dining events or promote plant-forward options?:
No

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

There are vegetarian and vegan dining options available daily in every dining commons at UGA. Each dining commons features a vegetation hot line. Vegan and meatless items are labeled on printed menus, the online menu, digital signage, and point of presentation menu tags. To ensure complete-protein vegan options are available all day to customers, quinoa, whole grain breads and bagels, peanut butter, nuts and seeds, and calcium fortified soy milk are served daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at all units. Available at lunch and dinner at the salad bar are 3 types of beans, made-from-scratch hummus of the day, tofu, and edamame. Available during lunch and dinner at the vegetarian hot line are the bean of the day, fresh steamed vegetable of the day, vegan entrée (which differs at lunch and dinner), brown rice, vegan burgers, and vegan dogs.

On the UGA Dining Services website, daily menus for each dining commons can be viewed; each vegan option is marked with a yellow "V" logo.


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:

Campus dining halls labels buffet lines to denote dishes that are made with GA-Grown products, Vegan, Vegetarian, as well as Gluten-free and other dietary restrictions.

Signage displays in dining halls depict Dining Services sustainability initiatives.

Nutrition Education Stations within each dining commons provide nutrition brochures, recipe cards, and nutrition posters created by our Registered Dietitian. iPads at these stations enable students to look up nutrition and allergen information for every recipe offered on our menu. Our nutrition team also writes biweekly tabletop announcements to keep students informed of the latest news about everything from food trends to healthy tips and hosts nutrition events in the dining commons throughout the semester.


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:

Dining Services uses a menu management software, FoodPro by Aurora Systems that tracks production and mitigates waste by forecasting usage based on history.


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:

After studying the impact of trayless dining, UGA Dining Services took a big step to reduce waste by removing trays from their five dining commons. The department worked with the UGA Office of Sustainability to collect data during a two-week test period. Snelling Dining Commons was set as the control. During the test’s first week, trays were provided in Snelling as normal. The plate waste that came through the tray return was measured by volume and weight. During the second week, trays were removed from Snelling and the same measurements were obtained. The water meter was also monitored to see how water usage would be affected with no trays to wash. The results showed a 26.7 percent reduction in plate waste and a 16.4 percent reduction in water usage during the week without trays. Some of the many benefits of trayless dining include reducing waste, conserving water, and saving energy.


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:

Dining Services is also a major contributor to both the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia and Full Plate. The Food Bank recovers donated and salvaged surplus food and distributes it to human-service agencies. Full Plate distribute prepared food to local charities that operate emergency shelters, food pantries, after-school programs and soup kitchens in the Athens area.


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:

Dining Services composts all organic materials from all campus dining halls in partnership with UGA Facilities Management Division. Non-biodegradeable products like individual condiment packets, tea bags with paper tags attached by metal staple, and plastic straws have been replaced with more sustainable options like reusable bulk condiment stations, 100% silk tea bags, and bio-degradeable paper straws. This allows 100% of food waste in the dining commons is being pulped and sent to the UGA Bioconversion Center where it is composted and reused on campus. Used cooking oil is recycled via annual contract and has been used to create biodiesel through partnership with a local business.


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:

Currently all pre-consumer food waste from UGA dining halls is collected and taken to the UGA Bioconversion Center where it is composted and turned into soil which is then reused on campus and in school and community gardens.


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:

All organic waste leaving campus dining halls is composted at the UGA Bioconversion Center. The program diverts approximately 10,000 pounds of organic waste from the local landfill each week. The program is a partnership with UGA Dining Services and UGA Facilities Management Division.

In addition, post-consumer organics composting is offered in UGA departmental break rooms. This program is managed by interns in the Office of Sustainability. Compost collection is completed using an electric bicycle and trailer and incorporated into pulped waste from dining halls for delivery to the Bioconversion Center.


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:

UGA dining commons use permanent dishes, glassware, and flatware, eliminating the need for disposable products.


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:

UGA Dining Services is launching a reusable take-away meal container program for meal plan participants in Spring 2018.


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:

Customers can bring in their own mug for coffee and receive a discount. Furthermore, EcoProducts are purchased for disposables like coffee cups and clamshell containers that are compostable.


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

Kosher and halal meal options were added to the UGA Meal Plan in 2015-2016. These items are available to students upon request and increased in request this school year.

Our department is currently developing a suitability-wellness initiative on portion control and food waste. This project kicked-off in August 2017 and includes educational portion control decals for serving lines, educational posters and table tents on food waste, and educational tabling within the dining commons. The project is being led by our Registered Dietitian in coordination with our Senior Public Relations Coordinator and Sustainability Student Clerical who was previously an intern with the UGA Sustainability Department.


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