Overall Rating Reporter
Overall Score
Liaison Chelsea Hamilton
Submission Date March 5, 2020

STARS v2.2

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 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:

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 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 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:

Vanderbilt purchases from local providers whenever possible. Many of these providers are SMEs. Local providers include vendors like Christie Cookies. More information in Dining Purchasing inventory.
Estimated percentage of total food and beverage expenditures on products from disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local SMEs


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:

Campus Dining abides by the Menus of Change principles, which includes serving less red meat, less often. Dining approaches this principle in multiple ways, it offers vegetarian options at all meals, serves only burgers with 25% mushrooms or the impossible burger (100% plant based), and reduces the number of times beef is offered across campus.
Special low impact dining events include:
Campus Dining celebrated World Vegetarian Day by offering extended special vegetarian meals in all dining halls.
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 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 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:

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. There is significant signage around Campus Dining’s “no more plastic” initiative across campus.


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 and was recognized in the TN Get Food Smart program in 2019.


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?:
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 2019. 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 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 2019. 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. Food waste collection is being added to front-of-house in the coming year.
A pilot program for residential food waste collection is being launched in 2020 with the hope that the program can expand to all residential halls in the future.


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.
A pilot program for “rented” hard china for events was launched in 2019. Campus groups can check out the service ware for their event or meeting and return it to the dining hall to be washed at no charge.


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.
A pilot program for reusable to-go containers was started in 2019 in one dining facility. The program is available to students free of charge.


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?:
No

A brief description of the reusable container discount or incentives program:
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A brief description of other sustainability-related initiatives not covered above:

Campus dining has significantly reduced packaging from their dining halls and is working to reduce packaging from items in the markets. Campus dining has installed numerous rapid water bottle fillers (located in all market locations and additional dining locations) and has eliminated bottled water and soda bottles in markets.
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.


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