Overall Rating Reporter
Overall Score
Liaison Phil Valko
Submission Date March 6, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Washington University in St. Louis
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Reporter Clara Steyer
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
"---" 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:

Washington University's primary dining services contractor, Bon Appetit Management Company, strives to provide "food service for a sustainable future". Bon Appetit has developed several programs that support sustainable food systems:

- Local sourcing: Farm to Fork program, Eat local Challenge, Fish to Fork, etc.
- Environmentally preferable sourcing: Adoption of the Seafood Watch standards, etc.
- Responsible animal welfare practices: RBGH Free, antibiotic free, cage-free eggs and other higher animal welfare certifications required on animal products purchase.
- Waste reduction: Imperfectly Delicious Products, cooking from scratch, etc.
- Climate: Low Carbon Diet program;
- Fair food: CIW Fair Food Agreement (Coalition of Immokalee Workers), Cordillera Fair Trade Certified baking chocolate, Fair Trade tea, etc.

For more detail into specific dining policies, please visit: www.bamco.com/sourcing/

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:

There are now three locations on campus where food is grown:

> The Ibby's herb garden, right outside of Ibby's restaurant, is a high visibility space that produce herbs, peppers, and tomatoes, used in menus served at Ibby's bistro.

> Burning Kumquat, the student-run on-campus organic farm, produces a variety of vegetables, herbs, and fruits that are consumed by garden members, sold at on-campus market, or sold to Bon Appetit for inclusion in campus menus.

> Since last summer, the Whittemore House (on-campus country club serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to its members), operates a vegetable and herb garden right outside and in full sight of the seating area. Chefs use basil, beans, hot peppers, tomatoes, Swiss chard, mint, rosemary, arugula, as well as less common varieties of veggies and herbs such as pattypan zucchini, shiso, and lemon cucumber in their recipes.

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 university partners with Local Farmer CSA to provide a Community Supported Agriculture program, available on three of our campuses: Danforth, Medical School, and West campus. Subscribers receive a weekly or bi-weekly crop box filled with seasonal and locally grown produce, eggs, and other artisan goods. Student discounts are available.
In addition to distributing the crop boxes, the CSA provider also sets up a mini market where non members can come and purchase fresh, seasonal and local goods.

The School of Medicine campus also hosts a Farmers Market every Thursday, year-long. The market is managed by the university's Human Resources department who communicates in detail the list of vendors that will be participating each week and what products will be available.

Several academic programs and courses also support urban agriculture projects in the community. Since 2015 and as part of the Sustainability Exchange, an interdisciplinary team of students has been working in partnership with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment to draft and pass an agriculture bill for the City of St. Louis.

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:

Complete-protein vegan and vegetarian meals and offerings are plentiful at all of our campus dining locations.
At the DUC (Danforth University Center), the most central and major dining location on campus, the DeliciOSO station only offers vegetarian and vegan options at lunch. At other locations and most stations, students have the opportunity to create their own meals by choosing a protein (including vegan options), starch, and vegetables. As vegetarianism and veganism grow more popular among our student population, Bon Appetit has multiplied and diversified its plant-based options.

The vegan vanilla strawberry smoothie is a recent popular addition on the university's menus. The University has also increased communication and transparency with signage and labels for each vegan food items (including in the convenient store).

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:

The Green Monday campaign was launched in 2015 at WashU. Since then, some campus eateries have been featuring plant-forward specials on Mondays. These specials are often relayed via university social media accounts using the hashtag #EatGreenWashU.

Green Monday helps consumers consider how their food choices affect public health and the environment. Participants pledge to eat vegetarian one additional day per week to reduce their 'foodprint'. For more information on the campaign, visit: https://sustainability.wustl.edu/get-involved/green-monday/

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:

Washington University hosts sustainability-themed meals throughout the year. Each meal has a different theme and objective, and these meals often change from year to year. The following are a few recurring examples:

- The annual Eat Local Challenge: chefs prepare meals with 100% local ingredients (including spices, meats, cheeses, and vegetables).
- Tomato Challenge: chefs made creative tomato-based dishes when a local farm vendor had a surplus of 3000 pounds of tomatoes.
-"Celebrate Diwali" with authentic Indian food, mostly plant-forward.

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:

This cafe offers a completely vegetarian menu. Additionally, Kaldi's purchases Relationship Coffees, which build on Fair Trade Certification and provide even greater transparency into the otherwise complex coffee transaction chain, from coffee grower to the consumer. Kaldi's seeks relationships with farmers whose agricultural practices preserve the soil and protect insects, birds, and wildlife. Its Relationship Coffees are also purchased for at least 15% above Fair Trade minimum price, ensuring that farmers make a living wage.

Ibby's is a unique campus bistro that offers fresh, creative cuisine inspired by local ingredients and the seasons. With a focus on sustainable and locally-sourced ingredients, Ibby’s offers a delightful, fresh, daily-changing lunch buffet and a la carte menu as well as a full-service seasonal dinner menu. Ibby's also received a 5-stars certification from the Green Dining Alliance (more here: https://greendiningalliance.org/location/ibbys/)

The Whittemore House is a Faculty Conference Center with about 1,400 members. Meeting room and dining rooms are available to members and their guests for breakfast, lunch and special events. The restaurant boasts many sustainability accomplishments and practices, including:
- Certified as a Green Dining Alliance 5 star member
- In 2017, 36% of the food locally sourced (within 200 miles of campus)
- Weekly Green Monday (Meatless) Specials
- Composting & Recycling
- Ordering local meats, dairy, and local produce
- Avoiding excess water usage
- Menu planning using seasonal ingredients
- Using compostable to go cups, lids and straws
- Events are prepared according to guest counts to ensure we waste as little food as possible

The Farmstead Cafe opened in 2016 with the objective to provide local, fresh and healthy food to the WashU Medical School community. In 2017, the cafe has purchased 36% of its food from local vendors.

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:

Campus dining locations have signage informing consumers about the local farms providing ingredients for the meals being served. Additionally, table tent displayed on dining hall tables rotate signage with information on sustainable dining options and initiatives like the Green Monday campaign.

On the menus or on the pre-packs, all the food is labeled for a maximum of transparency. The labels indicate the presence of allergens such as: Dairy, Egg, Fish, Peanut/Nut, Shellfish, Soy and Wheat. When applicable, meals or pre-packs are labeled: Vegan, Vegetarian, Kosher, Halal Certified, Bear Balance (contains the right balance of proteins, grains and vegetables).

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:

>> In the fall of 2019, the Environmental Studies Program and the Office of Sustainability partnered to organize "Food Week", a week-full of events revolving around the theme "Reclaiming Foodways". 600+ people attended 15+ events and got to learn about the complex intersections between food, health, climate, and equity. More info: https://sustainability.wustl.edu/food-week-2019-reclaiming-foodways/

>> The Green Monday Campaign is a growing global movement to educate consumers about the public health and environmental impacts of their food choices and to increase access to lower impact choices. WashU has been proactively promoting this campaign through tabling events, marketing, and presentations delivered to various groups across schools.

>> University College, WashU's professional and continuing education division, has also been offering a class on "Sustainable Food Systems".

>> Finally, the Office of Sustainability is an official "ally" of the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition which aims to bridge the many local efforts addressing hunger, food access, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, social justice, community, and economic development to form a coordinated, local food system. As part of this involvement, WashU sustainability and dining staff members have engaged in conversations with partners to increase local and sustainable food sourcing in regional institutions like universities and hospitals.

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:

>> Dining Services provides culturally diverse options throughout the year in larger dining locations. For example, a station called "WUrld Fusion" serves cultural meals every night. In addition, a regular kosher station serves kosher vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals year-round. Bon Appetit makes sure to consider religious/cultural traditions in their menu planning, offering options for: passover, lent, the Chinese new year, and more.

Every year during Black History Month, Dining is celebrating the African-American regional cuisines that defined our American palate. Food specials, educational information, and cooking demos are taking place all month long across campus.

>> The WashU Bear Balance movement is designed to improve the nutrition quality and availability of food for students, faculty, and staff around campus. Menu items across campus now labeled with the updated Bear Balance icon meet the following nutrition specific criteria: 100% whole grains; 0 trans fat (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils); less than a teaspoon of added sugar; less than 5 grams of animal-based saturated fat; Benchmarks for both sodium and overall calories. More: https://diningservices.wustl.edu/bear-balance-movement/

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:

All three of Washington Univeristy's food contractors on the Danforth campus (Bon Appetit, Flik, and Catering St. Louis) track their waste daily and use this data to adjust their ordering and preparation processes.

According to Bon Appetit: "Food is prepared using historical data collected over the previous cycle of that menu [cycles are 3-week long]. The daily waste logs inform us on how much we prepared compared to how much was sold. We assess data each time we prepare a menu item to either reduce or increase production based on business needs."

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:

Trays are only available at larger a la carte cafes and have been eliminated at smaller dining locations. Trays for weekend brunch at the Bear’s Den dining location were removed to reduce food waste during all-you-care-to-eat service.

Dining hasn't bought a tray in 3 years and is planning to phase them out as the stock goes down.

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:

Our primary food contractor, Bon Appetit, donates leftover from big events and surplus food to Campus Kitchen (a student group that collects food donations for use in the preparation of meals delivered to local pantries or soup kitchens) or to Operation Food Search (a local non-profit organization that fights hunger by distributing free food to 200,000 people in need each month).

In 2019, Campus Kitchen and Food Recovery Network have merged but the food donation program with Dining has sustained.

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:

WashU Dining collects cooking oils and contracts with a vendor that pick-up and re-purpose all cooking oils for various industrial purposes.

The Office of Sustainability and Dining Services have been in a three-year engagement to develop a partnership with an area high school to develop a closed-loop biodiesel recycling program. The three partners managed to jump through nearly all the hoops and hurdles to establish a program where the high school class would pick up spent cooking oil from the university, clean and convert the oil into B80 fuel, then use the final product in their own bus and maintenance vehicle fleet, and also sell back fuel to the university to power three dining services delivery trucks. The program is designed to maximize learning outcomes for students while coordinating across institutions to manage waste locally and in a more circular way. The program was all set to launch, but has been held up by the IRS – the high school class needs approval from the IRS to sell the fuel to an outside consumer. While we are ready and willing to launch this program, we cannot move forward without this last step.

In the interim, cooking oil is being picked up and recycled by a for-profit company. Unfortunately, there is no local vendor of diesel fuel with recycled cooking oil content. More info: https://sustainability.wustl.edu/washu-relaunches-closed-loop-cooking-oil-recycling-program/

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

A brief description of the pre-consumer composting program:

Pre-consumer food waste and kitchen scraps are collected on-site at the main dining locations and commissaries. Infrastructure, like an industry-scale pulper and piping, efficiently collects the food waste for transportation. Collected compost is picked up by St. Louis Composting to be composted off-site. The end product is brought back to campus to be used in the university's landscaping operations.

In the past couple of years, pre-consumer composting has expanded to the main conference center in the Olin Business School.

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

A brief description of the post-consumer composting program:

There is a post-consumer compost collection at the largest dining facilities, including the Bear’s Den, the Village, and most recently the Danforth University Center (DUC). Other locations include the Law School Cafe, Hillman Hall, Parkside Cafe, and Whittemore House. Significant signage assists with sorting, though a variety of self-sort models are used at the different locations. Like the pre-consumer waste, post-consumer food waste is collected by St. Louis Composting to be composted off-site and returned to the campus to be used in our landscaping operations.

To facilitate accurate self-sorting, a wide variety of education and outreach models are employed throughout the year, including an extensive outreach and training program aimed at first year students in their first 40 days on campus.

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:

Reusable service ware is available in all large 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)?:

A brief description of the compostable containers and service ware:

BPA-free reusable to-go containers, called Eco To-Go, are offered at major dining locations. Students and employees can return the containers to any campus dining location, and Dining Services staff will wash them.

When Eco To-Go is not available or not demanded by the consumer, third party certified compostable containers are available.

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:

All dining facilities serving coffee on campus are offering the Bottomless Mug program. For $99, students and staff receive a reusable mug and have unlimitted acess to coffee for the entire school year. This program is a great incentive to prevent hundreds of disposable coffee cups from going to the landfill. More information here: https://sustainability.wustl.edu/the-bottomless-coffee-mug-program-saves-cups/
Bon Appetit also provides a discount for customers bringing their own reusable mug on hot and cold beverages at all dining locations.

In August 2018, Dining introduced the Valid Fill program which incentivizes the use of reusable, rechargeable drink cup on campus for soda fountains. More: https://diningservices.wustl.edu/refill-refresh/

In 2018/2019, hundreds of metal straws were distributed to students to prevent the use of single-use straws. This initiative was led by the student group "Student Sustainability Board".

The Office of Sustainability has also been distributing and raffling out hundreds of bamboo cutlery sets to prevent the use of single-use utensils. These bamboo utensil sets will soon be available for purchase on our website.

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:

The institution has banned all bottled water. WashU’s ban eliminates 386,000 bottles and saves 15,000 gallons of oil each year.

Bon Appetit has been committed to buying "Imperfectly Delicious Products", a cutting-edge program to rescue flavorful but cosmetically imperfect produce from going to waste on farms and during distribution. In 2019, Bon Appetit collected 3,000 pounds of #2 tomatoes.

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

Washington University contracts out its dining services to more than one vendor. Bon Appetit is the largest vendor (representing nearly 90% of food purchases on campus) and hence has the greatest impact.

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.