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

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;
  • an itemized inventory based on output from the Real Food Calculator; or
  • an alternative inventory that includes all of the following information for each product:
    • Product vendor
    • Product label/brand
    • Product description
    • The category in which the product qualifies (Third Party Verified or Local & Community Based)
    • Information justifying inclusion

A common mistake is omitting or not providing enough detail on information justifying inclusion (e.g., how a product meets all of the size, ownership, and distance criteria for Local & Community Based products).

Do all local food purchases count for this credit?

No, foods 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?

Purchases of non-edible food accessory products should not be included in 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

  • 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.
  • Data outlier for sustainable food purchasing – A sustainable food purchasing percentage of 20% or more may indicate data entry errors or inconsistency in how criteria are applied.
  • Data outlier for conventional animal products – Reporting less than 8% may indicate data entry errors or inconsistency in how criteria are applied.
  • 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.

Additional Resources

How can we improve our performance on this credit?

Resources related to food & dining and real food in AASHE’s Campus Sustainability Hub

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