Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.51
Liaison Aurora Sharrard
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Pittsburgh
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
2.00 / 2.00 Nick Goodfellow
Sustainability Coordinator
Dining Services
"---" 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:

The University of Pittsburgh’s “Farmers Market @ Pitt” started in 2015 as a student project to bring fresh, local food to campus. Since then, Pitt’s Dining Services adopted the Farmers Market @ Pitt program, hosting a weekly market on Thursdays in the Fall semester, along with several markets in Spring and occasional Summer offerings.

The Pitt Farmers Market is managed by Dining’s Sustainability Manager and supported by a student market manager who learns how to operate a farmers market.

All market vendors are small, locally-owned businesses selling food and/or agricultural products. Vendors often vary year-over-year, but have included bakeries, vegetable farmers, cheese purveyors, tea markets, coffee shops, and food trucks.

Students are able to use their meal plans at the Farmers Market, which has become a popular feature of the meal plan; this is also an opportunity for the University to leverage meal plans to support local food systems.

NOTE: Due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, the Farmer’s Market at Pitt has been temporarily suspended in 2020-21, but planning is already underway for its return.

Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/TheFarmersMarketAtPitt/


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:

The majority of the food purchased by Pitt’s Dining Services that qualifies as "Real Food" falls into the local category, which reflects a strong University commitment (and growing achievement of) to supporting local business and local food systems.

Additionally, Pitt’s Dining Services provider (Pitt Eats by Compass Group) has committed to supporting small/disadvantaged/SMEs -- and works with Pitt Procurement to identify vendors to both purchase from and collaborate with relating to small business development (via Pitt’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence.)

Additionally, the University of Pittsburgh has general and focused supplier diversity goals across the university, which are both written into external vendor contracts and committed to by internal departments. Specific to Dining, Pitt's Dining provider has a goal to reach 15% diverse spend annually written into their contract. Due to the transition of Pitt's Dining provider in 2019-20, accurate data is not available for the question below.


Estimated percentage of total food and beverage expenditures on products from disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local SMEs:
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Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host low impact dining events or promote plant-forward options?:
Yes

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

In 2019, the University of Pittsburgh was one of the first institutions to join the Cool Food Pledge, a program of the World Resources Institute (WRI) to reduce GHG emissions from meals by 25% by 2030. Across campus, chefs and managers are reducing portions and menu items that include high-emitting animal products including beef, lamb, and dairy. In practice, this means most entrees in dining halls are plant-forward, with an emphasis on whole, plant-based foods (with meat on the side, if requested).

The above reflects 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan’s Food Systems goals of:

• Support a local, fair, ecologically sound, and humane food system by expanding the Real Food Challenge across campus to serve 25% Real Food by 2025.
• Serve meals that put plants at the center of the plate by decreasing the amount of animal-derived products sold by 25% by 2025 (from 2017 baseline).


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:

A station in Pitt’s largest residential dining facility, “Rooted” serves an entirely plant-based menu with vegetarian and vegan options. This station includes complete plant-based proteins to include rice and beans, quinoa, tofu, seitan, and tempeh. Both a vegan and vegetarian entrée are offered at each meal period with accompanying sides, local and seasonal vegetables.

Besides Rooted, all retail, residential, and convenience stores offer multiple delicious vegan options including proteins and milk substitutes.

The above reflects 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan’s Food Systems goal of serving meals that put plants at the center of the plate by decreasing the amount of animal-derived products sold by 25% by 2025 (from 2017 baseline) – in line with the Cool Food Pledge.


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:

All vegan and vegetarian menu options are labeled as such on signage in dining halls.


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:

In 2014, University of Pittsburgh students began recovering food across campus. Since then, Pitt’s Dining Services has fully adopted food recovery as a standard practice in concert with student organization Food Recovery Heroes, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, the Pitt Pantry (on-campus food pantry), and 412 Food Rescue (a local food recovery organization).

In 2015, the University of Pittsburgh became Food Recovery Verified -- and has recovered more than 60,000 pounds of surplus food to-date.

The University of Pittsburgh tracks it campus-wide food recovery at the bottom of the Pitt Sustainability Dashboard (scroll to bottom): https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/dashboard

In 2019, Pitt’s Food Recovery Heroes won a Zero Waste Excellence Award from the Pennsylvania Resources Council: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/pitt-food-recovery-heroes-receive-prc-zero-waste-excellence-award

In 2018, the University of Pittsburgh won a U.S. EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Food Recovery Award in the Data Driven category: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/university-of-pittsburgh-receives-accolades-from-epa-for-food-recovery-achievements/


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:

The University of Pittsburgh implemented our trayless dining program in 2008. Trayless dining led to a dramatic reduction in food waste (estimated at 50% reduction).

Since then chefs, have regularly evaluated how to modify portions through menu and serving choices, including smaller plates and portions. These strategies and others have resulted in a tracked a 19% reduction in post-consumer food waste since the introduction, as demonstrated by regular food waste audits in both residential dining halls.

Pitt’s food waste audit data is public on our Pitt Sustainability Dashboard (scroll to bottom): https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/dashboard/


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:

In 2014, University of Pittsburgh students began recovering food across campus. Since then, Pitt’s Dining Services has fully adopted food recovery as a standard practice in concert with student organization Food Recovery Heroes, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, the Pitt Pantry (on-campus food pantry), and 412 Food Rescue (a local food recovery organization).

In 2015, the University of Pittsburgh became Food Recovery Verified -- and has recovered more than 60,000 pounds of surplus food to-date.

The University of Pittsburgh tracks it campus-wide food recovery at the bottom of the Pitt Sustainability Dashboard (scroll to bottom): https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/dashboard

In 2019, Pitt’s Food Recovery Heroes won a Zero Waste Excellence Award from the Pennsylvania Resources Council: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/pitt-food-recovery-heroes-receive-prc-zero-waste-excellence-award

In 2018, the University of Pittsburgh won a U.S. EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Food Recovery Award in the Data Driven category: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/university-of-pittsburgh-receives-accolades-from-epa-for-food-recovery-achievements/


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:

Cooking oil is collected and recycled from all campus facilities. In Fall 2020 alone, Pitt Dining diverted 6,708 pounds of cooking oil from landfill.


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:

Starting in Fall 2020, all pre-consumer food waste is collecting in all campus kitchens for composting. In Fall 2020 alone, over 11.5 tons of waste was collected for composting from these locations.


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:

The University of Pittsburgh's Student Office of Sustainability began collecting post-consumer compostables in 2015, diverting 0.6 tons from the landfill that year. Since 2015, the University's post-consumer composting program has grown substantially, now being offered in 12 buildings.

In 2019, we diverted 174.10 tons of compostables across campus locations. Due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, campus-wide composting was down in calendar year 2020 to 103.54 tons (92 tons of which was from post-consumer collection).
Learn more about Pitt’s compostable collection: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/compost/

Pitt's composting progress is publicly tracked on our Pitt Sustainability Dashboard by month and building: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/dashboard

Despite strong progress, we remain focused on our 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan goal to divert 50% of food waste to compost by 2025, which required campus-wide deployment of our post-consumer compostable collection program.


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:

For dine in meals, reusable service ware is the only option for diners at our two residential dining halls. These locations serve roughly one-third of the meals consumed on campus each day.


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:

Compostable to-go containers are available for 75% of dining options on campus and reusable containers from our Choose to Reuse program (using the OZZI system) are gaining popularity as they become available in more campus dining locations.

Since the Choose to Reuse program started in Spring 2017X, nearly two tons of takeout waste has been avoided. Our 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan goal is to serve 50% of to-go meals and beverages in reusable containers by 2025; this goal is written into the university’s 10-year dining contract with Compass Group.

Learn more about Pitt’s Choose to Reuse program: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/choose-to-reuse-is-back/


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:

Pitt’s BYO[Mug] program encourages customers to use reusable mugs in place of single-use disposable mugs. Customers pay 99 cents for coffee or tea in their reusable mug (limit 24oz) and receive a 25 cent discount on espresso drinks when using a reusable mug. About 15% of sales for coffee or tea beverages are for reusable mugs.


A brief description of other sustainability-related initiatives not covered above:
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Website URL where information about the sustainable dining programs is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Pitt's Sustainability Dashboard showcases campus-wide composting and food recovery progress: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/dashboard/

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.