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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 81.30
Liaison Sarah Munro
Submission Date June 30, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Connecticut
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Sarah Munro
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Environmental Policy
"---" 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:

UConn Dining Services is commited to providing our customers with sustainable dining options and to supporting a local food system.

The Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus at UConn
1. Be transparent about sourcing and preparation.
2. Buy fresh and seasonal, local and global.
3. Reward better agricultural practices.
4. Leverage globally inspired, plant-based culinary strategies.
5. Focus on whole, minimally processed foods.
6. Design health and sustainability into operations and dining spaces.


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:

Spring Valley Student Farm (SVSF) sprouted in spring 2010 from a project planted by Residential Life. Since that time SVSF has blossomed into a year-round community for eleven student farmers living in two UConn houses 4.5 miles off campus. The student farmers learn about sustainable community living, organic food growing methods and the business aspects of how food is harvested, processed and presented to the UConn dining community. As stewards and ambassadors of the farm the student farmers support Spring Valley Student Farm as an educational destination where everyone may come together to learn and grow.

Spring Valley Student Farm (SVSF) provides an opportunity for UConn students and the greater community to join together to learn about environmentally, socially and economically ethical regenerative food production through hands-on experience. The Farm allows students to gain practical knowledge and skills through experiential learning while simultaneously modeling a closed loop food model in which organic produce is grown on campus for UConn Dining Services


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:

Dining Services sponsors a Farm Fresh Market that runs from May to September. The Market offers fresh local produce from our own Spring Valley Student Farm and other local farms, baked goods from our Not Just Desserts Bakery, local honey and many other local products each week.


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:

UConn has The University of Connecticut Department of Dining Service has continuously been voted one of the elite eight vegan friendly colleges and universities in the country. They have won gold in the NACUFS Best Vegan Recipe Contest and received an A+ rating on the PETA Vegan Report Card.
Out of 11360 recipes in our food pro information system, 1520 are vegan. This calculates to 13% of total recipes are vegan based.

We are proud to offer vegan options in every one of our facilities on campus to include:
• Eight residential dining halls
• Eight Coffee shops/cafes
• Union street market Food Court
• Farm to table restaurant “One Plate, Two Plate”
• Chuck and Augie’s Restaurant
• UConn Catering

We are a proud user of many vegan based proteins, and was one of the first Universities in the country to use a pea protein based product-called “Beyond Meat” which is a non GMO, Organic, Gluten Free meatless alternative.

A majority of our Vegan option are prepared on site from scratch-Some of our most popular vegan options are:
*Sweet Potatoe Kale Burgers
*Vegetable Pakoras
*Falafel
* Moroccan Vegetable Tagine
*Korean Japchae,
*Curried Chickpeas
*Brazilian Vegetable and Bean stews.
*Farro “risotto”
*Rigatoni with white bean ragout
*Eggplant caponata w/ focaccia crostini


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:

Buckley Dining Hall holds Meatless Mondays every Monday in April.

The Department of Dining Services hosts a Zero-Waste Barbeque as part of UConn’s Earth Day Spring Fling celebration every April. The barbeque features vegan burgers and “salad on a stick”. No utensils are needed, all plates are reusable, and all napkins are compostable. There are several waste stations manned by volunteers to direct students to compost correctly.

This year, UConn also hosted a Tasty Waste food event, during which a lunch was served made entirely of items that were diverted from the normal food waste stream. Over 1,200 people were fed at the lunch. http://naturally.uconn.edu/2016/11/15/uconn-raises-awareness-confronts-the-challenges-of-food-waste/


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:

Whitney Dining Hall holds a vegan Thanksgiving Dinner in November, offering all the traditional cozy dishes of Thanksgiving, without the animal cruelty and proliferation of industrial feedlots, which are detrimental to the environment.


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:

The Food for Thought food truck on campus is sustainability focused. They use local eggs in all their breakfast dishes, and other local products whenever they can. They also offer tofu as an alternative to meat and eggs.

One Plate Two Plate is restaurant in the Student Union that focuses on using local, sustainable, and healthy foods. “One Plate, Two Plates” was conceived with the philosophy that our menu options will be made from non-processed foods. We realize there are individuals on campus looking to strive for a healthy balance when it comes to food and more individuals are seeking out natural foods versus foods made with artificial ingredients. We hope that creating a menu based on preparing real food and locally sourced made daily from scratch will meet our community’s needs.


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:

All food in the dining halls are labeled with allergens and nutritional values. Locally grown products are labeled as such.

The new "blended burger" is specially labeled in the dining halls. The 8" by 11" sign informs the consumer that the blended burger is 50% beef and 50% mushrooms. It is 50% lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol, and also uses 45% less water to produce than a conventional burger.

You can find complete ingredients and nutrition information for all dishes at http://dining.uconn.edu/


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:

This past semester, dining services committed to the Menus of Change Initiative, has attended Johnson & Wales Waste conference, has toured the farm at Spring Valley Student Farm, supports Real Slow Foods UConn group, has participated in numerous classroom lectures, and commits to speaking appointments with Ecohusky and Ecohouse.
http://www.menusofchange.org/

In September 2016, Dining Services and the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources hosted a “Tasty Waste Lunch”, which fed over 1,200 students with a meal made entirely from ingredients that otherwise would have been wasted. http://naturally.uconn.edu/2016/11/15/uconn-raises-awareness-confronts-the-challenges-of-food-waste/


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:

All 8 residential dining facilities have numerous energy star rated pieces of equipment; brands such as True, Meiko, Camro, Cres Cor, Hobart, Frymaster, etc. When equipment has run its life cycle the Department is careful to select only equipment that meets the energy star rating.

In addition, McMahon:“An International themed Dining Hall includes a Tandoori oven, Wok Station, Brick Oven and full service Char Grill offering a variety of Global cuisine by chefs who prepare these flavorful dishes in front of you. The dining area is bright and lined with windows that overlook the campus and provide natural lighting.


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:

In partnership with UConn Dining Services and UConn Community Outreach, Food Recovery collects and delivers surplus food to the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic, CT. This food includes leftover sandwiches from the cafes.

Several programs that track and prevent food waste that the Department of Dining Services uses are Phood, LeanPath, and FoodPro. Phood uses an iPad based scale that looks and works much like a self-checkout station at a grocery store. Employees weigh the item being discarded and records they type of item. LeanPath is a computer based system with a camera and scale. Employees weigh items being discarded and the system logs and photos the item. For FoodPro, wasted items are recorded on paper and then typed into the Foodpro Waste Module.


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:

All of the 8 dining halls on campus are trayless, as well as the Student Union Market dining area and all 8 cafes on campus.

McMahon dining hall serves pre-portioned food in individual servings to promote healthy portion sizes, and actually reduces the amount of food waste that is generated as a result of students putting too much food on their plates.


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 conducts an inventory at the end of each semester of all food that would otherwise spoil over break so that instead of throwing it out, it gets donated to local soup kitchens, particularly the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic, Connecticut. After the spring 2016 1,500 pounds of perishable food items were donated and after the fall 2016 semester 3,440 pounds were donated.


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:

100% of the cooking oil used in the dining halls is recycled by Newport Bio Diesel and used as only bio-diesel. In 2016, dining services recycled 7,650 gallons of cooking oil.


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:

Dining Services uses Somat’s eCorects in five of our dining halls. We add to this dehydrator food waste from our preparation areas. This may be a mix of vegetable as well as meat products. Currently the end product is being saved for use in garden composting. We currently are processing approximately 8,712 gallons of pre-consumer waste.


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:

Dining Services uses Somat’s eCorrects in five of our dining halls. The eCorrects process post-consumer waste that is derived from our dish rooms. These are currently processing approximately 34,848 gallons.


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:

All dining halls utilize ceramic plates, metal utensils, plastic bowls, and plastic cups that are returned and washed in energy efficient dish washing machines. Students can also order meals in reusable containers from the Union Street Market Food Court.


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:

All of the containers and cups used at the Student Union Marketplace and cafes throughout campus are from the brand Eco Products. For various products the standards are either made from 24% post-consumer recycled office paper or from 100% renewable energy. For the Earth Day Spring Fling and Arbor Day Celebration, dessert is handed out on compostable plates with compostable forks.


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:

The Student Union Marketplace Food Court offers a reusable container called the “Green Piece” in which students can get their meals. Anyone can opt to use this container, but there is a Green Elite Card for the initial cost of $5 that takes 25 cents off of each purchase that you get in a Green Piece. This pays for itself in 20 uses and can be carried over year after year. Additionally, if you use a reusable mug for coffee at a UConn café, the price is marked as a refill, which is cheaper than a cup of coffee in a disposable coffee cup.


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:

In partnership with UConn Dining Services and UConn Community Outreach, Food Recovery collects and delivers surplus food to the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic, CT. Every weekday morning student volunteers arrive at the Library’s Bookworms Café to collect any prepackaged foods like salads and sandwiches that were not sold during the previous day. Bookworms receives all the unsold food products from all UConn Cafes as it is the last one to close. The volunteers then drive the food to the Covenant Soup Kitchen. Students also collect food from Putnam and Towers dining halls. This is food that has not been put out to serve yet and is not made up of salad bar items. Food is transported in cambro containers or produce bags depending on the type of food being donated. Volunteers usually pick food up once or twice a week from Uconn Dining Halls. Food safety is the number one priority as Food Recovery is careful to keep track of the temperatures of the food en route from UConn to Willimantic.
Additionally, napkins have been moved off the dining hall tables and put in centralized dispensers. During the pilot program in 2014, two dining units moved the napkin dispensers and demonstrated $4,000 in savings, resulting in the use of 286,000 fewer napkins. Now, the program extends to other dining halls as well, minimizing napkin use in cafeterias.


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