Food and Beverage Purchasing

For details about this credit, including the criteria, reporting timeframe, applicability, scoring, and more, please review the full credit language:

Frequently Asked Questions

How is this credit changing from STARS 2.1 to 2.2?

Whereas STARS 2.1 recognized local, community-based products that may or may not have been sustainably produced, the new version only recognizes products that are sustainably or ethically produced. In addition, STARS 2.2 requires that institutions report on their purchases of plant-based foods. To learn more, see FAQs about the new version.

What type of food and beverage inventory is required for this credit?

This credit requires one of the following:

  • A completed STARS Food and Beverage Purchasing Inventory (see Templates & Tools, below)
  • An alternative inventory that includes all of the following information for each product:
    • Product name, label, or brand
    • Product description/type
    • The category in which the product qualifies
    • Recognized sustainability standard met (e.g., third party certification or ecolabel) or other information justifying inclusion

A common mistake is omitting or not providing enough detail to justify each’s product’s inclusion (e.g., how a product meets all of the size, ownership, and distance criteria for Local & Community Based products under v.2.1).

Do local food purchases count for this credit?


A local product must be sustainably/ethically produced or plant-based to qualify. A product no longer qualifies solely on the basis of its point of origin. See FAQs about the new version for more information.


A product must be local AND community based, OR third-party certified to count. See definitions on 2-page classification guide. A common issue is for institutions to report on their own standards for “local,” often overlooking the community-based requirement.

Can purchases of non-edible food accessory products be counted?

No. Purchases of non-edible food accessory products should not be included in your calculations.

Templates & Tools



Example Responses

  • Carleton College –  Good descriptive detail provided under the credit with Real Food Calculator inventory uploaded. Reporting is managed by students.
  • Elon University – Good example of a simplified inventory that meets minimum criteria.
  • Green Mountain College – Great description of sustainable food purchasing program. Justification of products counted in inventory is clear and detailed.
  • Haverford CollegeReporting example of an institution using the Real Food Calculator food inventory.
  • Luther CollegeStrong program in purchasing local & community based foods. Inventory follows more stringent criteria than what is required for STARS. Includes separate tab for Other Sustainability Attributes.
  • Oregon State University – Good reporting example with clear methodology; uses the STARS Food & Beverage inventory and includes a full year of data.
  • University of New Hampshire – Inventory goes above and beyond minimum criteria by including itemized expenditures on sustainable food purchases.
  • University of Pittsburgh – Thorough inventory that includes clear and concise information on third-party certifications and justification for the local and community based classification.
  • University of Vermont – Inventory meets credit criteria and is a good example of use of Real Food Challenge inventory. Students are involved in the food purchasing and assessment process.
  • University of Wisconsin-River Falls – Good reporting example using STARS inventory template. Includes a full year of data.
  • Vassar College – Good descriptive information provided, clear and concise inventory. All beef and eggs purchased on campus are third party certified Humane.

Common Issues Identified During Review

  • Numeric outlier – Reporting a sustainable foods and beverages purchasing percentage of 20% or more.  If a higher percentage is reported, check closely for the issues below (particularly counting items that are not allowed per guidelines on the 2-page classification guide)
  • Numeric outlier – Reporting a conventional animal products purchasing percentage of 8% or LESS. If a lower percentage is reported, this may indicate data entry errors or inconsistency in how amounts were calculated.
  • Inventory format – This credit requires a completed STARS Food and Beverage Purchasing Inventory; an itemized inventory based on output from the Real Food Calculator; or an alternative inventory that includes for each product: Product vendor, Product label/brand, Product description, The category in which the product qualifies (Third-Party Verified or Local & Community Based), and Information justifying inclusion. A common mistake is omitting or not providing enough detail on information justifying inclusion.
  • Identification of Sustainable Foods – Foods must be local AND community based, OR third-party certified to count. See definitions on 2-page classification guide. Choosing to report on an institution’s own standards for “local” and counting these items for scoring is not allowed. Such independent standards may be listed under the optional “Additional percentage of dining services food and beverage expenditures on conventional products with other sustainability attributes” field near the bottom of the credit.
  • Purchases of non-edible food accessory products should not be included in scoring calculations. If such items are included in the food inventory, clarification that they have not been counted should be provided.

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