Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 62.14
Liaison Michael Lizotte
Submission Date April 9, 2023

STARS v2.2

University of North Carolina, Charlotte
OP-7: Food and Beverage Purchasing

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.46 / 6.00 Michael Lizotte
University Sustainability Officer
Facilities Planning


Institution’s dining services purchase food and beverage products that meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Sustainably or ethically produced as determined by one or more of the standards listed in Standards and Terms.

  • Plant-based.

An institution with Real Food Calculator results that have been validated by the Real Food Challenge (U.S.) or Good Food Calculator results that have been validated by Meal Exchange (Canada) may simply report its Real/Good Food percentage as the percentage of expenditures on sustainably or ethically produced products. The percentage of expenditures on plant-based foods is reported separately.

Required documentation

For transparency and to help ensure comparability, a completed STARS Food and Beverage Purchasing Inventory template or equivalent inventory must be provided to document purchases that qualify as sustainably or ethically produced. The inventory must justify each product’s inclusion and include, at minimum, the following information:

  • Product name, label, or brand

  • Product description/type

  • Recognized sustainability standard met (e.g., third party certification or ecolabel)

It is not required that products that qualify solely as plant-based be documented at the same level of detail (i.e., they may or may not be included in the inventory).


This credit applies to all institutions that have dining services (e.g., on-site dining halls, catering services, or food service outlets) operated by the institution, a contractor, or a franchisee.


An institution earns the maximum of 6 points available for this credit when the weighted cost of products that are sustainably/ethically produced and/or plant-based is equivalent to 100 percent or more of total food and beverage expenditures. Points earned are automatically calculated in the Reporting Tool as follows:




Percentage of total annual food and beverage expenditures on products that meet each criterion (0-100)


Points earned

Sustainably or ethically produced












Total points earned →

Up to 6

A purchase that is both sustainably/ethically produced and plant-based is counted in both categories. This means that the maximum points available may be earned in a variety of ways, for example when:

  • 50 percent of purchases are sustainably/ethically produced and 100 percent are plant-based,

  • 62.5 percent of purchases are sustainably/ethically produced and 75 percent are plant-based, or

  • 75 percent of purchases are sustainably/ethically produced and 50 percent are plant-based.



Report the most recent data available from within the three years prior to the anticipated date of submission.

Sampling and Data Standards

At a minimum, the figures provided must include food and beverage purchases for campus dining halls and catering services operated by the institution or the institution’s primary food service provider (e.g., Aramark, Bon Appétit Management Company, Chartwells, Sodexo). Outlets that are unique to the institution or its primary contractor (e.g., retail concepts developed and managed by the institution or contractor) should be included. On-site franchises (e.g., regional or global brands), convenience stores, vending services, concessions, and de minimus purchases by other entities may be excluded at the institution’s discretion to simplify reporting.

An institution that does not have dining halls or catering services should report on whatever type(s) of food service outlets are present to the extent that a representative portion of total campus food and beverage expenditures are included.

Institutions may choose to track food and beverage purchases for a 12-month consecutive period or use a representative sample that includes data from a full academic term or similar period. When using samples, institutions must accommodate seasonal and other variations in food and beverage availability and purchasing, for example by including an equal number of months within and outside the local growing season.   

This credit is based on total food and beverage expenditures in the following categories (the examples provided are not exhaustive):

  • Meat: beef, lamb, pork, game (including products that are frozen or canned)

  • Dairy: fluid milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream

  • Poultry: chicken, turkey, other fowl

  • Fish/seafood: fish, shellfish (including products that are frozen or canned)

  • Eggs: shelled eggs, liquid egg product, powdered egg

  • Produce: fresh, cut, or frozen fruits and vegetables

  • Baked goods: breads, pastries, sweets

  • Grocery/staples: spices, oils, sugar, grain products, vegetarian/vegan meat alternatives, most products that are boxed, bottled, jarred, or canned

  • Tea and coffee: hot and cold coffee and tea products (including bottled beverages, coffee beans, loose and bagged tea)

  • Other non-dairy beverages: soft drinks, sports drinks, milk alternatives, wine, beer

To the extent feasible, all of the product categories and types outlined above should be included in the total food and beverage expenditures figure. If data tracking limitations make it necessary to exclude a product type or category, all products of that type or category must be excluded from both the numerator (expenditures on products that meet credit criteria) and the denominator (total food and beverage expenditures). Exclusions must be documented in the public “Data sources(s) and notes about the submission” field.

To simplify reporting and/or address data tracking limitations, an institution may elect to report on a subset of plant-based foods (as defined in Standards and Terms). For example, an institution may choose to only report produce and other single-ingredient commodities that are not dairy, meat, poultry, eggs, or fish/seafood as plant-based foods. Under this approach, multi-ingredient products would not be considered plant-based or animal-based, and would not earn points.

Products sourced from a campus farm or garden, but not purchased, may be accounted for based on estimated market value.

Guidance for aggregated and multi-ingredient products

Products that are sustainably/ethically produced and products that are conventionally produced must be reported separately to the extent possible. In cases where a single-ingredient product is gathered from multiple farms or boats and aggregated prior to distribution (e.g., fluid milk), a purchase may qualify as sustainably/ethically produced if the distributor is able to verify that more than 50 percent of the product (by volume) meets the criteria.

A product from a secondary processor (e.g., artisan, baker, brewer, cheese/yogurt maker, coffee roaster) qualifies as sustainably/ethically produced if the predominant/defining raw ingredient (or more than 50 percent of ingredients, by weight, salt and water excluded) is sustainably or ethically produced. Examples of predominant/defining raw ingredients include the flour in bread, the milk in cheese, and the tomatoes in tomato sauce.

A multi-ingredient product may qualify as plant-based if it is composed primarily of unprocessed or minimally processed plant-based foods and plant-based culinary ingredients OR it is a vegetarian/vegan alternative to meat or dairy. Ultra-processed foods do not qualify as plant-based (see Standards and Terms).

Additional documentation required for institution-affirmed production

To count a product under the exemption for institution-affirmed production (see Standards and Terms), the following documentation must be provided:

  • Name of the farm, boat, or harvester

  • Product description/type

  • Source (direct purchase/trade or source-identified intermediary)

  • Affirmation from the institution that the production methods are consistent with the principles of organic agriculture, responsible fisheries management, or fair trade

  • Evidence on which the affirmation is based (e.g., site visits or documentation from the producer)

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.