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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 Silver
Overall Score 61.37
Liaison Preston Jacobsen
Submission Date April 3, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Tennessee at Knoxville
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Preston Jacobsen
Sustainability Manager
Facilities 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:

Aramark is the dining services contractor for the University of Tennessee. Aramark’s environmental sustainability program is called Green Thread. “Through Green Thread, our environmental sustainability platform, we weave environmental sustainability into everything we do, making progress every day on our commitment to responsible sourcing, waste minimization, efficient operations, and transportation management.” (http://www.aramark.com/responsibility)

Aramark established a new Sustainable Seafood Sourcing Policy in December 2016, which can be viewed at http://www.aramark.com/files/seafood-principles-policy.


Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor source food from a campus garden or farm?:
No

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

Since 2010, the UT Farmers Market has provided a venue for area producers to sell healthy, local food to the greater Knoxville area. The UT Farmers Market is free and open to the public every Wednesday from May to October from 4-7 p.m at the UT Gardens off Neyland Drive. See vegetables.tennessee.edu/utfm.html for more information.


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:

Yes, the university has published a Vegan & Vegetarian Guide (http://dining.utdev3.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/07/Vegan-Vegetarian-Guide-2015_2016-1.pdf) that highlights vegan and vegetarian food options at 26 dining locations and convenience stations across campus. Additionally, there is a specific vegan station in the Fresh Food Company Stokely location which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For lunch and dinner, individuals may select tofu and vegetables of their choice and have it sauteed before their eyes.


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:

The Office of Sustainability and the Committee for the Campus Environment host the Environmental Leadership Luncheon, where an all vegetarian, primarily vegan, meal is served by Aramark and their local produce provider, Fresh Point.


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:

The Office of Sustainability hosts two major events per year, Sustainability Day Celebration (late October) and Earth Month Celebration (early April), where we feature environmentally focused organizations for the UT and greater Knoxville community – as well as work with Aramark and select local food vendors who demonstrate a commitment to sustainable food management in order to provide a meal to participants (300-400 students per event). Some featured menu items from past events include organic, non-GMO tamales from Good Golly Tamale (https://www.facebook.com/goodgollytamaleknoxville/timeline), locally-sourced and “slow” (http://slowfoodtnvalley.com/snail-of-approval/) fried pies from Dale’s Fried Pies (http://dalesfriedpies.com/about/), and a locally-sourced vegetarian southern soul food spread from Aramark.


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?:
No

A brief description of the sustainability-themed food outlet:
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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:

Currently, there is sustainability signage in the Stokely dining location that highlights the ecoGrounds coffee. The signage describes that the coffee is Fair Trade certified, Rainforest Alliance certified, Direct Trade certified, and USDA organic. There are also informational pamphlets available for individuals to read more about the projects and communities that benefit from ecoGrounds' partnerships, including the Guatemala Water Project and the fair trade premiums co-op COCAFCAL (Cooperativa Cafetalera Capucas Limitada). Additionally, UT Aramark representatives, the Office of Sustainability, and UT Recycling are collaborating to design and purchase large Green Thread wall displays for dining locations. These displays will highlight the Aramark Green Thread's mission as well as specifically highlight sustainability efforts at UT.


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:

Three graduate students authored a policy brief promoting the availability of healthy, sustainable food options on campus to present at the 2016 Howard Baker Public Policy Challenge. This policy, named “Farm to UTK”, was awarded 2nd place in the competition and received $1,000 to help implement and support the policy. The following excerpt from the policy describes it well: “Our policy solution recommends the development of a coordinated, local-food purchasing project between Aramark and UT. To increase the feasibility of implementation, we chose to focus our policy on improving a single aspect of “real food” identified by the RFC – that it be local or community-based. The RFC loosely defines local or community-based to be foods that are found in nearby, locally-owned farms or businesses. This concept applies facets important to all stakeholders by taking components from the Real Food Challenge and the Farm-to-College model and combining them with the feasible needs from Aramark in order to change the food environment on UTK’s campus. Farm-to-College programs support communities by purchasing from local farmers and providing consumers with fresher produce by minimizing travel time and reducing energy use. Similar to the RFC, local food purchasing as part of this policy, will consider the price and quality of foods, as well as the social and economic factors resulting from each purchase." http://bakercenter.utk.edu/11-ut-teams-to-compete-at-policy-challenge-sunday-april-24-130-pm/


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:

The University of Tennessee's health and wellness initiative is called "Be Well". "Be Well is an initiative of the Center for Health Education and Wellness which, in partnership with Human Resources and Healthier Tennessee, seeks to improve the health and wellness of the university’s employees." The program entails Move More Mondays, Wellness Wednesday Newsletters, the Movember Movement program, National Healthy Lunch Day, Slow Flow Yoga, and more. (http://bewell.utk.edu/mission/)

Also, the Big Orange Meal Share program was launched in 2016. Through this program, students can donate their unused guest meal passes to students in need. This great program helps ease the food security burden for many students while also allowing meal plan credits to not be wasted. http://tntoday.utk.edu/2016/01/15/ut-launches-meal-share-program-assist-students/


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:

"The Food Recovery Network is a national organization that unites students at colleges and universities to fight food waste and hunger by recovering surplus perishable food from their campuses and surrounding communities that would otherwise go to waste and donating it to people in need. At the University of Tennessee, our aim is to eliminate as much food waste as possible from sporting events, dining halls, campus convenience stores, and other dining locations. Currently, UT composts nearly all of its food waste, which releases large amounts of methane gas, which is far more harmful than carbon dioxide--Not to mention this food could potentially feed one of the nearly 250,000 people in East Tennessee that access emergency food supplies. Using a strict safety protocol, all of our recovered food goes directly to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, which helps feed 18 surrounding counties. Instead of choosing only one or two local food shelters, we chose SHFB so we could maximize our immpact on our community. The Food Recovery Network is also an advocate for the students of UT in areas of sustainability, campus dining, and local food insecurity issues." https://utk.collegiatelink.net/organization/frn_utk/about.


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:

During the Destination Imagination event each summer, serving 72,800 trayless meals has saved 109,200 gallons of water. Additionally, the Presidential Court Building Café and the Fresh Food Company dining location in Stokely Residence Hall implement trayless dining for their all-you-care-to-eat meals!


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:

Aramark donates food that would otherwise go to waste with the help of their employees, the Food Recovery Network student group, UT Recycling employees, and Second Harvest food bank. Aramark donates food items to the Food Recovery Network as well as Smokey's Pantry, a new food pantry located on campus to serve students, faculty and staff, and the community. At football and basketball games, all of the catering and concession stations in the stadium/arena collect and deliver their extra prepared food to a central location where the Food Recovery Network and UT Recycling workers repackage it to be given to the Second Harvest Food Bank. This food then is distributed to people in need via the Salvation Army and KARM (Knoxville Area Rescue Mission).


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:

UT contracts with a company to provide cooking oil collection containers and handle the collection of used cooking oil. That company converts the cooking oil to biodiesel that is sold on the market. All dining facilities as well as concessions and commercial kitchens in campus participate in the program.


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:

Pre-consumer compost is collected by the Recycling Office at dining hall locations and nearly all franchises on campus, including Starbucks, Panda Express, and Raising Cane's. These food scraps and other compostable materials are brought to the composting site to be processed and used as a soil amendment at the UT Organic Farm.


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:

Post-consumer food waste on campus is collected from all major buffet-style dining locations, all food courts, all Aramark restaurants on campus except one and from select offices. Secondly, UT Recycling launched a pilot paper towel composting program in Hodges Library, which has since expanded to eight locations across campus. (Paper towels are collected from bathrooms or kitchen areas). Lastly, a pilot program has recently been launched in Stokely, Volunteer, and Laurel residence halls where students may check out composting jars, fill them up over time, and empty them in designated areas in their buildings.


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 UT dining locations offer reusable service ware for "dine in" meals. Additionally, any outdoor dining event catered by UT Dining Services uses exclusively compostable cornstarch-based flatware and dishware.


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:

Compostable to-go cups, bowls, plates, and silverware are available for use in several dining locations across campus, including Qdoba, Twisted Taco, the Student Union, Southern Kichen, Claxton, and the PCB.


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 Mug Project is a campus-wide initiative to eliminate single-use containers and bottles and save natural resources. UT students, faculty, and staff can bring their own mug of twenty-four ounces or less to various locations across campus and receive $1.19 drip coffee and fountain beverages, a savings of forty cents or more! The program also offers 15% off specialty coffee beverages. More than 90 percent of Volunteer Dining locations are participating, including Starbucks, Einstein’s, Quiznos, and Subway.


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:

UT Recycling works with concession and in-stadium vendors at home football games to recycle all of their steel cans from their kitchens as well as all of the cardboard. UT Recycling also collects all wooden pallets from inside the stadium.


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.