Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.40
Liaison Natalie Walker
Submission Date Feb. 21, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Pennsylvania
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.88 / 2.00 Madeline Schuh
Sustainability Analyst
Facilities and Real Estate 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?:

A brief description of the sustainable dining policy:

Penn Dining and Bon Appétit are committed to supporting the plan by managing our food services in a sustainable, socially responsible manner. While Penn Dining and Bon Appétitt have partnered since 1998, since 1999 Bon Appétit has been working directly with farmers and ranchers through its Farm to Fork program. In addition, they strive to serve only seafood that meets Seafood Watch sustainability guidelines, and are committed to reducing antibiotic use in farm animals, serving rBGH-free milk, switching to cage-free eggs, tackling food's role in climate change, addressing farmworkers' rights issues, switching to humanely raised ground beef, and phasing out pork raised with gestation crates.

In addition, Bon Appétit works to minimized the generation of food waste. Kitchen and post-consumer waste is collected and composted in an off-site Recycling Center. Composting has the added benefit of reducing the amount of waste sent to the landfill and contributes to the "Climate Action Plan 2.0" waste diversion goals.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor source food from a campus garden or farm?:

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

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?:

A brief description of the farmers market, CSA or urban agriculture project:

The "Common Market", provides the university with a farm share program. The "Common Market" aggregates local farm products to supply customers with a large variety. Baskets are available for pick-up on campus and are delivered bi-weekly. Complementing the farmshare program, there is a weekly local farmers market on campus, providing local produce, baked goods, plants, and much more. In addition to these two programs, Penn has an urban food forest in the "Penn Park Orchard", complete with an apiary to provide pollination. The food from the "Orchard" is harvested by staff for non-commercial consumption.

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:

Penn has been identified by PETA for the past several years as one of the most Vegan-Friendly Schools in the country. Penn Dining & Bon Appétit offer vegan dining options in every dining location, at every meal. Bon Appétit meets and works with the Penn Vegan Society on a monthly basis to ensure we are up to date on all vegan dining options.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host low impact dining events (e.g. Meatless Mondays)?:

A brief description of the low impact dining events:

Penn encourages all events to plan and participate in low waste events. A low waste event is one in which the majority of the waste generated at the event is either composted or recycled. Any scale event, from department-wide gatherings to small staff meetings, staff picnics to lunchtime seminars, can be made low waste (Zero Waste events are not currently feasible for all Penn events due to the closure of the industrial scale composting facility which was able to accept compostable plastics. For this reason, Penn encourage low waste events where reusable service-wear is used.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host sustainability-themed meals (e.g. local harvest dinners)?:

A brief description of the sustainability-themed meals:

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:

A local farmers market on campus, providing local produce, baked goods, plants, and much more. Students are able to pay for farmers market items with dining hall voucher points. The farmers market provides produce to both students and faculty/staff.

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?:

A brief description of the sustainability labeling and signage in dining halls:

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor engage in outreach efforts to support learning and research about sustainable food systems?:

A brief description of the outreach efforts to support learning and research about sustainable food systems:

Scholars and practitioners convened to discuss the new developments on urban food security at the Penn IUR and Wharton IGEL Sustainable, Equitable Urban Food Systems Event in September of 2014. The panel explored topics ranging from eating patterns in population and access to food; economic benefits of food production in employment figures; global food supply and climate change; contrasting healthier products offerings in supermarkets located in low vs high income neighborhoods; public health concerns in food deserts; and food production from urban agriculture.

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)?:

A brief description of the other sustainability-related dining initiatives:

Bon Appétit has a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist on staff, who is is available to speak with students who have general nutrition questions as well as those who have special dietary needs.

Free nutrition services are offered at Campus Health and Student Health Service. Nutrition workshops for student groups are available upon request by Campus Health. Additionally, Student Health Service has two nutritionists on staff who provide:
- General nutrition information including how to eat a healthy diet as a busy student.
- Specific nutrition counseling for medical issues like celiac disease, lactose-intolerance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc.
- Specialized nutrition counseling for patients who have disordered eating patterns, have been diagnosed with anorexia or bulimia or have other concerns relating to these issues.

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:

"Watch Your Waste" is Penn Dining's waste minimization campaign. The campaign has three different aspects: Municipal Solid Waste reduction, proper disposal of waste, and reduction of the amount of food wasted. Penn Dining works to ensure all materials in the dining areas are recyclable and that all items go in the appropriate bin, whether it is waste, recyclable, or compostable. The final aspect of the program works to encourage diners to eat all the food they take, reducing food waste.

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:

In an effort to reduce food waste, Penn and its dining partner, Bon Appetit, have removed trays from dining halls. Students are encouraged to "take all they want, eat all they take" as part of Penn's campaign for waste management in the dining halls.

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:

Penn Dining along with Bon Appetit works with Feeding America, Philabundance, and the Salvation Army to address hunger in the Philadelphia community through the donation of food which is prepared, but not served. The food is frozen and then donated to the Salvation Army Pioneers.

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)?:

A brief description of the food materials diversion program:

All pre-consumer food waste is composted or digested in a mechanical digester in the dining halls. The digester works by kitchen staff putting food scraps in the digester which allows them to be put down the drain and treated in the municipal waste water system. The compost is managed by Organic Diversion, LLC, which supplies high quality compost for agricultural use.

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

A brief description of the pre-consumer composting program:

All pre-consumer foodwaste for composting is collected in the kitchens in compostable liners and deposited in green disposal bins to be hauled to an organic recycling center.

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

A brief description of the post-consumer composting program:

Green composting bins are placed at all dishware collection areas in the dining halls. Dining hall customers do not scrap their plates, but instead trained kitchen staff members scrape plates to ensure low contamination levels in the compost.

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:

All of Penn's four primary dining halls are equipped with dish washing stations in kitchens. Dining hall customers place dishes in designated areas where they are collected and washed by kitchen staff. Satellite, smaller "grab-and-go" dinning facilities use some disposable serviceware.

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:

Penn Dining operates the "Green2Go" Program in its residential dining cafes to reduce the usage of disposable to-go containers. Students on a dining plan are automatically eligible to participate, and can see their RA or visit either 1920 Commons, New College House, Hill College House, or King's Court English House to pick up a "Key2Green" tag.

Students visit any of the participating locations and present their "Key2Green" key tag to the cashier to receive their first "Green2Go" container. Next time they visit, they simply return the rinsed container to one of the three participating dining cafes and exchange it for another container or for a key tag. Students are charged $2 for a non-reusable container which encourages use of the reusable ones.

By participating in the program, Penn has eliminate by two-thirds the number of disposable clamshells which make their way into the waste stream at Penn (estimated to be 171,000 annually). The program supports Penn’s waste minimization efforts.

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?:

A brief description of the reusable container discount or incentives program:

Students can use their UA/Penn Dining reusable mug, to receive "buck a brew" special pricing at non-branded retail operations throughout campus: Houston Market, Joe’s Café, Mark’s Café, NCH Retail and Accenture Café. In addition, they can also refill at any AYCTE operation.

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)?:

A brief description of other dining services materials management initiatives:

Penn Purchasing Services promotes an environmentally sustainable supply chain. In collaboration with Penn’s Green Campus Partnership, Purchasing Services works with its suppliers and the Penn community to actively identify and promote products and processes that make a positive sustainability impact. Purchasing Services is a member of the "Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council" - a non-profit organization whose mission is to support and recognize purchasing leadership that accelerates the transition to a prosperous and sustainable future. The Council’s programs and community of practice will help institutional purchasers to: prioritize opportunities to influence the social, environmental and economic life cycle impacts of purchased goods and services, identify existing leadership standards and approaches that address these priorities, benchmark progress toward goals, and receive recognition for advancement.

On May 19, with "Wash Cycle Laundry", Penn received the 2017 Leadership Award for "Supplier Engagement from the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council" (SPLC). This award recognizes the collaboration between Penn and "Wash Cycle Laundry" in its efforts to collaborate and put in place a supplier solution with a multi-faceted sustainability impact. The services provided to Penn by "Wash Cycle Laundry" are innovative, earth friendly, locally sourced, and generate upwardly mobile job opportunities for vulnerable job seekers in the area. This solution also stands as an example of a large anchor institution (Penn) working with a small business ("Wash Cycle Laundry") for mutually beneficial impact. "Wash Cycle Laundry" provides laundry services for Penn's tablecloths, lab coats, kitchen aprons, linens, and other items.

"Wash Cycle Laundry", employs a wide range of sustainable purchasing strategies and document measurable environmental, social, and/or economic benefits. SPLC Executive Director Jason Pearson said “The winners of SPLC’s Leadership Awards exemplify, encourage, and support a constructive cycle of innovation that will define the global marketplace of tomorrow.”

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Penn's dining contract vendor, "Bon Appetit Management Company", established in 1999 a company-wide commitment to buying locally, called "Farm to Fork". Chefs for Penn dining halls are required to purchase at least 20 percent of their ingredients from small farms and ranches located within 150 miles of their kitchens that are registered through this program. By buying directly from farmers, Penn chefs have much more control over what types of agribusiness are supported with University resources. Priority is given to supporting true family farms, where the owners live on or nearby the land, work it themselves, and therefore are conscientious stewards. In 2011, Bon Appetit defined a new mid-size category for regional meat producers, and also launched a companion seafood program, called "Fish to Fork".

In 2014, Bon Appetit defined a "Locally Crafted" category, for local artisans who support socially and environmentally responsible practices through community entrepreneurship.

Its rules for "Farm to Fork" eligibility for all farms are on the Bon Appetit Company website, at http://www.bamco.com/sourcing/farm-to-fork-criteria/

The University of Pennsylvania is a major research institution, with over 3,000 degrees granted annually from twelve professional and academic schools at the Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate levels. Penn is committed to reducing emissions and energy use, as stated in the 2014 "Climate Action Plan 2.0". This submission documents Penn's efforts during the FY17 year and compares them to the FY14 baseline year which corresponds with the University's "Climate Action Plan. 2.0". The submission relies on information related to the main, academic, West Philadelphia campus, but to more fully document efforts across the Penn system, information related to the Morris Arboretum and New Bolton has also been referenced and noted as outside the boundary in descriptions. The information is used to enrich examples of University efforts and is not intended to be the primary justification for credits. The responses for each of the questions and sub-questions are drawn from University materials, both internal and public documents. Each section notes the website where the information can be found.

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.