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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.78
Liaison Margaret Lo
Submission Date Sept. 1, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

George Mason University
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.75 / 2.00 Mary Liang
Sustainability Analyst
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?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainable dining policy:

Mason is a part of Sodexo's Better Tomorrow Initiative, which formalizes a number of commitments to local communities and the environment.


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:

Mason sources food, such as lettuce and herbs, from The President's Greenhouse, located adjacent to a student dining hall. The university also source food from an on-campus hydroponics garden.


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:

George Mason University has previously partnered with The Farm Table, a food co-op to bring local foods to students, staff, and faculty on campus. Mason was the first university to work with The Farm Table, located in Richmond, Virginia.


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:

At Mason, there are vegetarian or vegan options at every meal. At the Southside dining hall, the Simple Servings station offers allergy-free entrees, including food options that are nut-free, grain-free, and soy-free. Additionally, the Without Boundaries station offers a daily vegan or vegetarian entree option. Finally, at Ike's dining hall, the Eastern Market vegetarian offers do-it-yourself stir-fry meals.


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:

Mason provides a number of low-impact dining events such as Fresh Fridays. This program highlights vegetarian entrée dishes and encourages students to eat more vegetables.


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:

Mason has hosted several sustainability-themed dinners to celebrate interns and alumni of the university. These farm-to-table dinners use produce grown on campus and other local and sustainably grown foods.


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:

George Mason University has several food outlets that highlight sustainable and healthy meals including:

--Freshens Fresh Food Studio: fresh, healthy smoothies and frozen yogurt
--Freshii: healthy salads, bowls, and burritos with a Mission Green
--Panera, clean, responsibly raised salads, sandwiches, and breakfast items
--Garbanzo Fresh Mediterranean, responsibly sourced, simple, and traditional meals


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:

Mason student dining halls promote sustainable practices through various ways, including large posters and signs on sustainable foods at entrances and exists, and rotating weekly signs above the food counters to indicate the week's local food options.


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:

Mason's College of Humanities and Social Sciences offers a course on Sustainable Food Systems, which examines the evolution of US food systems. Students learn about the conventional agriculture and food systems and research alternative food systems that emphasize sustainability.


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:

Mason's Student and Health Services offers a free service to promote general nutrition and wellness, vegetarian nutrition, and healthy eating and planning with a registered dietitian.


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:
---

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:

At George Mason University, trayless dining is implemented in all dining facilities.


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:

The Mason Campus Kitchen, led by student volunteers, recovers pre-consumer food from dining halls and donates to local shelters and food 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:

Mason reuses and recycles all kitchen oil waste. Mason employs a local farmer to filter contaminates in used kitchen oil and is reused two or three times before it is recycled at Dar Pro Solutions.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a pre-consumer composting program?:
No

A brief description of the pre-consumer composting program:
---

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a post-consumer composting program?:
No

A brief description of the post-consumer composting 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:

Mason provides silverware for all students, faculty, and staff dining in dining halls, and silverware are washed with a high efficiency dishwashing system.


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)?:
No

A brief description of the compostable containers and service ware:
---

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:

Mason offers incentives for students, faculty, and staff providing reusuable cups and mugs for hot liquids.


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:

Mason has eliminated the use of straws in all its dining halls and as a result, removed over 318 pounds of plastic from their annual waste stream.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Information is from November 2015 through November 2016.

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.