Overall Rating Reporter
Overall Score
Liaison Chelsea Hamilton
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Vanderbilt University
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Reporter Chelsea Hamilton
Sustainability Outreach Coordinator
Sustainability and Environmental Management Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a published sustainable dining policy?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainable dining policy:

Vanderbilt was recently awarded membership in the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC). Co-founded and jointly led by Stanford University and The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative is a working group of leading scholars, foodservice business leaders, and executive chefs from invited colleges and universities who are accelerating efforts to move Americans toward healthier, more sustainable, plant-forward diets. The project aims to promote sustainable food choices at universities to make students more aware of the impacts of their food choices later on in life. At the core of Menus of Change are the 24 Menus of Change Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus. This initiative leverages the unique position of universities to advance these types of life-long food choices among students—who will soon be adult decision-makers—by connecting a diversity of insights from academic programs, dining services, and athletics.

Vanderbilt Campus Dining takes responsibility for doing their part to support the well-being of their guests and for supporting the health of our environment. Our Eat the World, Save the Earth program is designed to give you information about our kitchen principles and how they affect your environment, community and well-being.

Components of the program include:

• Dining Advisory Committee – comprised of students, university staff and dining staff to address all aspects of our dining program
• Easy reference guide to icons defining food choices such as organic, vegetarian, vegan, etc.
• Corresponding icons at the food stations
• This year, Vanderbilt Campus Dining has eliminated plastic straw, bag, and lid use. In addition, they have replaced containers with compostable and recyclable packaging.
• Nutrition Calculator on our web site
• Staff Registered Dietitian – available for consultation and guidance
• Training for our entire staff – environmental and kitchen principle training is on-going
• Sustainability Coordinator – on staff
• Hydration Stations – to reduce the use of bottled water; stations at Rand Dining Center, The Commons and Branscomb Quad
• Biodiesel – student-run initiative that recycles fry oil to produce Eco Suds, a soap alternative
• Green chemical, bleach-free napkins & tenant scrubber (uses 70% less water that conventional scrubbers)
• Vanderbilt Campus Dining recognizes the great power and importance of FOOD. Food brings people together, CREATES a sense of place and a feeling of KINSHIP. Food sustains not only our bodies but also our communities and environment.

Vanderbilt Campus Dining Kitchen Principles

• Menus change seasonally and are regionally based
• We buy local and organic produce whenever possible (seasonal)
• We offer milk from a local dairy farm
• Vegetarian entree is available at each meal at all locations
• Healthy nutritional choices offered at each meal at all locations
• Vanderbilt Campus Dining serves all-natural deli meat
• We use 100% canola oil in all fryers & oil is recycled
• We utilize World Centric biocompostable disposables
• Plastic cups are recyclable
• Campus Dining crushes and recycles all cans used in our kitchens.
• This amounts to saving over 57.57 cubic feet in the landfill on a WEEKLY basis!
• We buy locally bottled water
• We utilize “Pick Tennessee” products
• Majority of our fruits and vegetables are “Pick Tennessee” products (seasonally based)
• Management staff is ServSafe certified
• Our Campus Markets sell organic, gluten-free, natural and local products
• Cookies and muffins are baked fresh daily
• MSG is never allowed
• We offer soy milk and yogurt at most locations
• Nashville’s only certified vegetarian Kosher kitchen is a part of our meal plan
• Left over foods are donated to local charities
• We specify energy star rated equipment
• Source products from local vendors whenever possible
• Check our daily menus for featured local and organic produce!
Part of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor source food from a campus garden or farm?:
No

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

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

Vanderbilt hosts a local farmers’ market on campus. The market is part of the Nashville Farmers’ Market network and is held weekly during the season (June-October). The farmers’ market includes produce, meats, cheese, eggs, flowers, and other locally made goods. Many of the farms provide CSAs that can be picked up during the Vanderbilt Farmers’ Market and at occasional pop-up Farmer’s Market stands in Rand Hall.


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:

Vegetarian and vegan entrees are available at each meal at various Vanderbilt Dining locations. In November 2013, Vanderbilt Dining received an “A” on PETA2’s Vegan Report Card with a 94% student satisfaction rate. Vanderbilt Dining was recognized on this list for offering at least one vegan entrée at every meal, offering nondairy milk, labeling vegan entrees and desserts, including a vegan student on the dining advisory board, promoting vegan options and working with students to distribute vegan food. http://www.peta2.com/feature/vegan-college-ranking/college/vanderbilt-university/


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

A brief description of the low impact dining events:

Insect Fest: Vanderbilt hosted a low impact event in October 2016 that introduced Vanderbilt diners to the practice of eating insects, which have a much lower impact than other animal products)
To-Go Awareness Day on Earth Day: Rand dining hall hosted an Earth Day event where no to-go containers were available to bring awareness to choosing hard china when dining in, reducing waste.
Vegan/Vegetarian dinners: Held twice each semester and features an all vegetarian menu with vegan options as well.
Scrape Your Plate Day: Vanderbilt Students in partnership with Vanderbilt Campus Dining held “Scrape Your Plate Day” to demonstrate the amount of food wasted from scraps left on diners plates in a dining center.


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

A brief description of the sustainability-themed meals:

Warren and Moore hosted a dinner for students, faculty, and staff on sustainable food at Alumni Hall, in cooperation with SPEAR and ORBIS. Concerns with animal treatment and the environmental consequences of industrial meat production led us to an all vegetarian menu, the specifics of which were developed by Vanderbilt Dining. Camp Howard, Director of Dining, addressed many topics, including energy use in Dining’s operations, recycling and composting practices, sourcing local foods, among other questions during the dinner.


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?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainability-themed food outlet:

Local Vendor Fair: Vanderbilt hosted a local vendor fair on the Commons that acted as a mini-market for local goods on the freshman campus.

Grins Vegetarian Cafe offers a regular menu and daily internationally-inspired specials that satisfies diners of all types. Kosher Certification provided by Rabbi Saul Strosberg from Congregation Sherith Israel.


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?:
Yes

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

Campus Dining’s Eat the World Save the Earth program includes icons indicating specific categories that are included on all campus dining menus and at the service point. These icons include: organic, vegetarian, vegan, local, fair trade, and recycle (to-go containers/packaging). The icons make it easy for diners to find preferred food choices while they are in the dining are or looking at online menus.
Dining recently added signage for composting available in VU dining halls instructing diners where to put their waste so it is composted instead of ending up in a landfill. Dining has included signage for their switch to compostable to-go containers and utensils, as well as describing the impacts of removing plastic straws and plastic bags in the dining halls.


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

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

Campus Dining hosts sustainability dining events where chefs and university staff discuss the impact of food on our environment (e.g. Sustainable food dinner event in Warren and Moore). Signage is also available about more sustainable choices in dining halls and on online menus. Campus Dining also regularly discusses sustainable food options, food waste, and composting on their social media.


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)?:
Yes

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

Vanderbilt has an on-campus dining facility called Grins that serves vegetarian meals that are Kosher certified by Rabbi Saul Strosberg. Grins offers a regular menu and daily internationally-inspired specials that are available on the Vanderbilt meal plan as well for non-meal plan diners.
Vanderbilt also has a fully kosher food truck that was started by a Vanderbilt student. Aryeh’s Kitchen serves the Vanderbilt campus a Kosher menu with a southern twist. It is the only Kosher campus food truck in the U.S.
Vanderbilt also provides culturally diverse dining options daily in the main dining hall. Orto is a revolving, ever-evolving concept that explores the cuisines of the world. The menu at Orto is diverse, unique and will often change. The menu always includes healthy vegan and vegetarian options as well as robust, flavor-filled dishes.
Halal dining options are also identified with signs.


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:

Vanderbilt chefs and management team work very hard to ensure that there is as little waste as possible. This is accomplished by analyzing sales figures, by time of day, day of the week, month, previous trends, peak business hours, etc. Waste is eliminated on the front end by effectively managing our food purchases. When there is leftover food, it is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank.
Vanderbilt Campus Dining uses LeanPath software to minimize food waste. LeanPath is used to track food waste and educate staff on how they can reduce waste and make more sustainable purchasing choices. Vanderbilt became a member of the Nashville Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge in 2018 and completes a follow-up survey twice per year to remain recognized.


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:

Vanderbilt has two main dining locations on campus. The Commons Center dining hall uses only hard china for meals. No takeaway options are available at that location.

Vanderbilt chefs and management team work very hard to ensure that there is as little waste as possible. This is accomplished by analyzing sales figures, by time of day, day of the week, month, previous trends, peak business hours, etc. Waste is eliminated on the front end by effectively managing our food purchases. When there is leftover food, it is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank. Students also have the opportunity to pick up a coin instead of one or more of their side items included in the meal plan. The coins collected are traded for canned food items which are donated to Second Harvest Food Bank. http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2012/04/share-a-side/

Since 2013, Vanderbilt has donated 2 truckloads of strawberries leftover from the annual Strawberries and Champagne commencement event to the Nashville zoo animals as well as rescued native wildlife at Walden’s Puddle.
http://www.vanderbilt.edu/sustainvu/2013/05/commencement-strawberries/


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:

Leftover food is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank.


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)?:
Yes

A brief description of the food materials diversion program:

Vanderbilt installed an Organic Refuse Conversion Alternative (ORCA) machine to the main dining facility, Rand Hall, in 2015. The ORCA offers a method to digest food waste on-site and convert it to nutrient rich water within a twenty-four hour period. The ORCA has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of our kitchen, eliminating the need to store food waste and reducing much of the food waste that would otherwise go to the landfill.
Since 2013, Vanderbilt has donated 2 truckloads of strawberries leftover from the annual Strawberries and Champagne commencement event to the Nashville zoo animals as well as rescued native wildlife at Walden’s Puddle for use as animal food.


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:

A composting program was implemented in 2017 on campus, and has expanded to all of our campus dining locations in 2018. The program currently includes pre- and post-consumer collection for all dining prep locations, as well as post-consumer collection at the Commons Center and Rand dining halls. Food waste is collected and composted by the Compost Company, a local vendor. In addition, coffee grounds from many campus dining/cafe locations are collected for a composting program run by students at the campus community garden. The compost is then used in the campus community garden to amend the soil.


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:

A composting program was implemented in 2017 on campus, and has expanded to all of our campus dining locations in 2018. The program currently includes pre- and post-consumer collection for all dining prep locations, as well as post-consumer collection at the Commons Center and Rand dining halls. Food waste is collected and composted by the Compost Company, a local vendor.


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:

Vanderbilt has two main dining locations on campus. The Commons Center dining hall uses only hard china for meals. No takeaway options are available at that location. The Rand dining hall utilizes hard china for eat-in meals and compostable service ware for takeaways.


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:

The Commons Center dining hall uses only hard china for meals. No takeaway options are available at that location. Other dining halls utilize hard china for eat-in meals and compostable service ware for takeaways.


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?:
No

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

A brief description of other dining services materials management initiatives:

Vanderbilt installed an Organic Refuse Conversion Alternative (ORCA) machine to the main dining facility, Rand Hall, in 2015. The ORCA offers a method to digest food waste on-site and convert it to nutrient rich water within a twenty-four hour period. As much food waste as possible is run through the ORCA to reduce food waste in the landfill. The ORCA has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of our kitchen, eliminating the need to store food waste and reducing much of the food waste that would otherwise go to the landfill.


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