Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 71.94
Liaison Dennis Cochrane
Submission Date Dec. 19, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Virginia Tech
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Gwyneth Manser
Sustainability Manager
Dining 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?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainable dining policy:

Yes, sustainability is part of our seven guiding principles in Dining Services.


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

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

Yes, we source food from the Dining Services Farm at Kentland Farm, which is located on campus.


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?:
No

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

All of Virginia Tech’s major dining facilities offer complete-protein vegan meals, whether in one dish or achievable by combing different sides. The best location to eat vegan meals is the exclusively vegetarian venue “Olives” in D2 dining center. This location offers a wide variety of vegan and vegetarian options for lunch and dinner seven days a week. In close second is the a la carte dining center West End Market, with a robust salad venue called “Leaf and Ladle” that also offers proteins in the form of soups, as well as vegetarian/vegan compatible options at most other venues in that dining center. Owens Food Court, another popular dining center on campus, features a buffet-style salad bar with a myriad of choices highly compatible with a vegetarian or vegan diet.


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:

Yes, we host a number of low impact dining events, including a fully waste free meal at freshman orientation (called “Hokie hi”) and a clean plate Thanksgiving meal.


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:

Yes, we have special sustainability-themed meals during earth week and a Virginia fall harvest meal that we host at our on-campus farm each year.


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:

Yes, we have a food outlet called the “Farms & Fields Project” that only uses local, sustainable, and/or organic ingredients in its daily menu.


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:

Yes, we have signage in our dining halls that informs students what foods are local, sustainable, and/or organic. We also have signs that encourage students to produce less food waste, use reusable to-go containers, and to compost.


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:

Yes, we have a Sustainability Manager position for Dining Services who engages in outreach through tabling at events and giving talks in classes and at campus club events to educate students about sustainable eating and waste reduction.


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:

Yes, we have a number of other sustainability initiatives related to campus dining. One of our larger initiatives is our reusable to-go program, which encourages students to use reusable containers for their to-go orders. We also have a campus dining nutrition month, which is a health and wellness initiative in our dining halls. We are currently working on increasing our sourcing of local products in campus dining.


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?:
No

A brief description of the food recovery competition or commitment program or food waste prevention system:
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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:

After a post-consumer waste study in the spring of 2008 finding that nearly 30% less food is wasted when trays are not readily offered. As a result, Virginia Tech Dining Services removed trays from our all-you-care-to-eat facilities beginning summer 2008 during the freshman student orientation. The trays were removed during the summer so that incoming freshman students would never “miss” trays when they arrived on campus. Trays are still offered for handicapped guests or other special requests, and are still available at a la carte facilities, where they have never been used on a wide scale.

Washington Post article about trayless dining programs, featuring Virginia Tech: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/17/AR2011021703343.html

Virginia Tech News article about trayless dining: http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2008/06/2008-421.html


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:

Dining Services strives to be zero waste, but in the meantime much of our edible unconsumed food ends up in the Southwestern Virginia community instead of in the landfill. In 2007, Jacob Moyer, a student at Virginia Tech, was inspired by the recent tragedies on our campus and decided to create something positive in our community as we healed together. He began a dialogue with Dining Services’ now Director Ted Faulkner over how we handled food waste. Both Jacob and Ted were monumental in leading the department to donate excess food to those in need.

In early 2008, our “grab and go” items were donated to the Salvation Army five days a week from Au Bon Pain, Deet’s Place, DXpress, and Vet Med Café. Since then, we’ve added hot food items from D2 and Owens along with our “grab and go” items and regularly donate to two organizations that serve under the Feeding America umbrella.

For more information about organizations Virginia Tech Dining Services works with to donate food please see:

Feeding America, Southwest Virginia: http://www.faswva.org/

Radford-Fairlawn Daily Bread: http://www.radfordpl.org/dailybread/

Children Feeding Child Ministry: http://www.wampit.com/Children-Feeding-Child-Mnstry---Roanoke-747358.html

We donate a significant amount of food through the Feed America and the Virginia Tech chapter of Campus Kitchens.


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:

Yes, our waste food oil is picked up by Valley Proteins, which processes the waste into feed and biofuel products.


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:

Virginia Tech Dining Services began to compost its pre-consumer food waste in January of 2009 at our pre-preparation food processing center on campus, Southgate. All of our compost, pre and post-consumer, is picked up and processed by a local family operation located just miles away in Riner, VA. The pre-consumer composting program has largely expanded in the years following 2009. It now includes D2, DXpress, Owens Food Court, ABP Squires, ABP GLC, Hokie Grill, West End Market and Turner Place.

In the 2012 calendar year, Dining Services diverted just above 500 tons from the landfill through our composting efforts.

For an article about Dining Service’s composting program please see: http://blogs.roanoke.com/ticker/2011/04/12/virginia-tech-cuts-waste-with-dining-services-composting-program/

For more information about the company that processes Virginia Tech’s compostable material please see: http://www.poplarmanorenterprises.com/

For a complete list of Virginia Tech’s Dining Centers please see:
http://www.studentprograms.vt.edu/dining/diningcenters.php


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:

Our post-consumer composting program began in October of 2009 with Owens Food Court. The Sustainability Coordinator and composting company representatives trained staff in this location in order to ensure that compost would be sorted effectively. Since then, D2, Au Bon Pain (ABP) Squires, West End Market, and ABP GLC have joined the program (plates on the tray return will be scraped and sorted back of the house). All of our compost, pre and post-consumer, is picked up and processed by a local family operation located just miles away in Riner, VA.

Starting in 2012, four to six three-compartment waste stations will be in our Deet’s Place, Hokie Grill, and ABP locations. These stations will have student-sorted post-consumer composting for the first time ever on campus. These stations were paid for and won by a grant in tandem with the Environmental Coalition at Virginia Tech.

When Turner Place opened in August 2012, similar Waste Stations were in place with options for compost, recyclables, and landfill. The Fall 2012 semester and first part of spring 2013 semester have served as a training period for students to learn how to sort waste properly. Moving forward, these waste stations will require ongoing training and outreach to ensure as little contamination as possible.

For an article about Dining Service’s composting program please see: http://blogs.roanoke.com/ticker/2011/04/12/virginia-tech-cuts-waste-with-dining-services-composting-program/

For more information about the company that processes Virginia Tech’s compostable material please see: http://www.poplarmanorenterprises.com/

For a complete list of Virginia Tech’s Dining Centers please see:
http://www.studentprograms.vt.edu/dining/diningcenters.php

For the Environmental Coalition’s website please see: http://www.theecvt.com


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:

We use reusable plates, cups, and silverware for dine-in options in the majority of our dining halls.


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:

Starting fall 2013, Reusable To-Go containers can be used instead of foam to-go containers. This is an excellent way to reduce the amount of materials that are being sent to the landfill and reduce your carbon footprint. We provide reusable to-go containers in three of our dining centers on campus. In addition, we provide third party certified compostable clamshell containers for to-go meals, which works in conjunction with our on-site composting program.

For an article about Virginia Tech students lobbying for reusable to-go containers please see: http://www.collegiatetimes.com/stories/11465/group-lobbys-against-styrofoam-containers/p1

For an article about Virginia Tech’s reusable to-go container pilot program please see: http://www.collegiatetimes.com/stories/17551/reusable-containers-to-move-forward


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?:
Yes

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

Fall of 2010 marked the beginning of Dining Services’ reusable bottle program. We sell our water bottles at Owens Food Court for cash or flex (dining) dollars, and offer a $0.10 discount for fountain beverages and free water for any individual that presents the bottles at the register. The bottles are stainless steel for easy cleaning and sanitizing, and possess a drinking surface separate from the filling surface in order to prevent the spread of germs. They are printed with our logo and are the only approved container for this use in the dining centers. Over the course of a four year college stay at Virginia Tech, it is estimated that the bottles could save a student over $80 when used for soda and keep 11 pounds of waste out of the landfill per person.

Students who use compostable containers rather than reusable containers for “to-go” food are charged an additional 10 cents (reusable containers are free).


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:

We are currently in the process of completely removing styrofoam from our to-go food packaging options, and will be completely styrofoam free by August of 2017.


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