Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 75.29
Liaison Ezra Small
Submission Date Feb. 17, 2023

STARS v2.2

University of Massachusetts Amherst
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Kathy Wicks
Sustainability Director
Auxiliary Enterprises
"---" 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?:

A brief description of the farmers market, CSA or urban agriculture project:
UMass Dining provides backbone support for the UMass Student Farmers Market that has been running continuously since 2011:
​A collaboration between UMass Dining Permaculture Program and the UMass Student Farm, the UMass Student Farmers' Market is a weekly event during the fall semester and for a few weeks at the end of the spring semester. The market featurs live music, fresh local veggies, medicinal herbs, handmade crafts, student art, and an opportunity to get to know the amazing agricultural community on the UMass campus. Annual CSA Shares are sold to students, faculty, and community members and the market is the weekly distribution site.


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?:

A brief description of the sustainability-themed food outlet:
The theme of sustainability is integrated into entire the UMass Amherst Dining Program. Permanent sustainability signage is in all our residential and retail outlets and sustainability messages (food waste reduction, composting, recycling, hydration stations, menu labeling connected to sustainable menu option, etc.) are routinely highlighted and reinforced through our website, social media, and special events. Our value of sustainability for our dining program is aligned with our campus Zero Waste by 2032 commitment and our recent signing of the Okanagan Charter that commits us to be a Health Promoting institution.

in the Spring of 2022 we launched an A-E Carbon Rating system on our menu as part of our Dining for a Cooler Planet Campaign. This rating system is an analysis by a 3rd party consultant that evaluates recipes at the ingredient level. For more information https://www.localumass.com/low-carbon-dining.html

Hampshire Dining Commons, one of UMass Amherst's on-campus dining halls, was converted into a premier campus eatery dedicated to sustainability, healthy, and great-tasting foods which provides a defensible and cost-effective example to implement campus-wide.

Our passionate and knowledgeable Dining Services sustainability team develops seasonal menus which include recipes that leverage world cuisines to entice students to try new foods and to help them permanently adopt a healthier diet.

Redesigned meals consist of more sustainable seafood (underutilized fish such as sea trout, porgy, and barramundi), Real Food certified meat (local, humane, free-range, antibiotic free), plant-based proteins, fruits and vegetables, and healthy beverages. Simultaneously, we are reducing consumption of red meat, processed and fatty foods, corn syrup, and sodium while using various strategies to eliminate waste and find cost efficiencies (e.g. use vegetable trimmings for stock) to offset the higher cost of Real Food protein sources.

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?:

A brief description of the support for disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local SMEs:
Local purchasing is a hallmark of the UMass Amherst Dining Program. Year round, UMass Dining sources directly or through a very small supply chain from small and medium sized enterprises. Examples of our relationships with local farms include purchasing over 38% of our produce from local/regional small farms during the growing season and 100% of the milk in the 4 large Dining Commons on campus service milk that is sourced from a small dairy less than a mile from campus.

For a complete list of our farm partners and practices https://www.localumass.com/purchasing.html
https://umassdining.com/sustainability (see "Farm Partners" tab on map)

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

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

A brief description of the low impact dining events and/or plant-forward options:
Everyday, UMass Dining provides several menu options in each of our dining commons that are vegetarian, vegan, and plant based, and sustainable (organic, fair trade, humanely raised, and have a "short supply chain".
Over the past 8 years, UMass Dining has hosted numerous high profile sustainability food events open to students, faculty and the community. Some of these events include:
-Annual Dining for a Cooler Planet Event for the last 5 years. This event focuses on food as a means for climate action. Food solutions from the Drawdown Project are the backdrop of the menu design, educational materials, engagement strategy, and presentation during the event. Dining staff and student ambassadors are trained in the engagement strategy and how the menu connects to the climate action food solutions.
-Partnered with a national Indigenous Collective host a series that featured "What Indigenous Footways can teach us about Climate Action." This included 4 workshops (2 virtual, 2 in person), professional development for our culinary team, and we are completing a open access digital cookbook that will feature interviews, recipes, images, and text.
-Local UMass Event celebrates our local partnerships with regional farmers
- Atlantic Seaweed Event featured sustainable seaweed producers from Maine who educated students, staff, and faculty about the regenerative and nutritional properties of seaweed.
-Annual Chef Conference, involving 65 dining programs nationwide and impacting over 750,000 students and consumers through the food they prepare. This conference features sustainability themed keynote speakers that include topics like farm to institution, the future of food, and waste reduction.

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?:

A brief description of the vegan dining program:
There are always vegan, as well as vegetarian, options for every meal in all four Dining Commons and in our retail outlets. UMass Dining nutritionists on staff provide personal dietary planning and advising to students to accommodate vegans and vegetarians. Students are able to sort the menu through our dining app to easily identify vegan menu options by DC, by meal, and by time of day.


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?:

A brief description of the sustainability labelling and signage in dining halls:
UMass Dining runs several sustainable educational campaigns for its students.
These Include:

-Carbon Rating on the Menu includes an A-E rating on menu identifiers, signage on how to read the label, and educational materials that is available through digital assets throughout the dining commons, on the dining app, online, and in printed handouts.

-Plant based, vegetarian, local, and sustainable icons included in the menu identifiers

- Farmer Highlights campaign which highlights our local vendors https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiAaBdaR094tceiq808OZtMD3NHfqbEyH

- Comprehensive labeling for each meal, specifically "SPE Certified" labels for high quality, sustainable, nutrient dense ingredients: http://umassdining.com/blog/dining/spe-certified-dining-umass-amherst.

We also promote dining sustainability on campus with a "How to" webpage https://www.localumass.com/how-to-eat-sustainably-on-campus.html with information we also share through social media, on our Dining Common digital assets, and through interns who have information tables on a weekly basis.

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?:

A brief description of the food recovery competition or commitment program or food waste prevention system:
UMass Dining supports the UMass student Chapter of the Food Recovery Network which recovers food and provides meals to a local homeless shelter M-F during the academic year.

UMass Dining also re-purposes food into new menu items when ever possible combat food waste.

UMass Dining uses the LeanPath System to measure pre-consumer waste annually, Additionally, Dining hosts several educational events to raise awareness and reduce post consumer waste.

During our Dining for a Cooler Planet annual event reducing food waste is one of the climate action food solutions that is featured. This included partnering with the Student Farm to glean produce from a local farm that would have ended up as on farm food loss and hosting a Clean Plate campaign focused on post consumer food waste awareness and reduction.

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?:

A brief description of the trayless dining or modified menu/portion program:
Trays are not available to use in any of the UMass Amherst Dining Halls. The trays were removed in 2009 and have not returned. We also have trayless dining in our largest retail operation in the Campus Center, as well as some of smaller retail sites.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor donate food that would otherwise go to waste to feed people?:

A brief description of the food donation program:
In 2011, we began donating left over food to the UMass Chapter of the “Food Recovery Network” http://www.foodrecoverynetwork.org/massachusetts#umassamherst

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

A brief description of the food materials diversion program:
UMass contracts with Western MA Rendering to recycle all used cooking oil. Since 1937, Western Mass. Rendering Co. has been New England’s preferred recycler to the food industry. Supermarket cutting waste, used cooking oils and kitchen greases from restaurants have been collected and recycled by Western Mass. Rendering Co. for over 75 years and for many different purposes. Used for centuries to make soap and candle wax, they now are refined to yield other products such as biofuels, animal feed as well as stearic & oleic acids and glycerin which are used used in dozens of commercial applications.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a pre-consumer composting program?:

A brief description of the pre-consumer composting program:
We send all of our pre-consumer and post-consumer food scraps to be either composted at a nearby Martin's Farm and Compost in Greenfield, MA or to a near by anaerobic digester operation managed by Vanguard Renewables.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a post-consumer composting program?:

A brief description of the post-consumer composting program:
100% of postconsumer waste is composted in our Dining Commons and conferences are composted; all, but our smallest retail dining locations provide compost bins for food waste.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor utilize reusable service ware for “dine in” meals?:

A brief description of the reusable service ware program:
UMass Dining uses ceramic dishes and metal silverware in all dine-in locations Ceramic dishes and metal silverware are also available at our largest retail outlet in the campus center and some of the larger retail outlets throughout campus.

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)?:

A brief description of the compostable containers and service ware:
While we do not offer a reusable to-go container program yet, we do distribute reusable water bottles and to-go bags to students, as well as sell reusable coffee mugs. Students who bring reusable coffee mugs to retail dining locations and cafes receive a discount.

We are planning a student led pilot project to test re-usable containers in one of the Grab and Go outlets in the Fall of 2023.

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?:

A brief description of the reusable container discount or incentives program:
Students who bring reusable coffee mugs to retail dining locations and cafes receive a discount.

A brief description of other sustainability-related initiatives not covered above:
Small portions and stations for in time cooking are features of all of the dining commons. This option helps reduce waste by reducing over production.

Global Insprired Cuisine is part of the UMass Dining mission to make culturally diverse food options available to our campus community. Our staff is the most diverse on campus, which also offers opportunity to tap into the foodways and traditions from all over the world and feature them on the menu in creative ways.

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

Data source(s) and notes about 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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.