Dining Service Procurement (3.0)

Credit Language

OP 7: Dining Service Procurement – version 3.0


  • 7.1 Percentage of food and beverage spend that meets sustainability criteria
  • 7.2 Percentage of dining service spend with social impact suppliers

Questions & Answers

How has this credit changed between STARS Version 2 and Version 3?

  • The criteria covering sustainable/ethical products have been updated to recognize the Anchors in Action aligned standards (US) and to be more readily adaptable internationally.
  • A list of qualifying standards will be maintained in the STARS Help Center rather than included in the Technical Manual.
  • A pathway for products from small producers to qualify without certification has been directly integrated into the criteria.
  • Plant-based foods now earn points at the same rate as certified products.
  • The definition of plant-based foods has been updated to align with prominent international standards. Products containing animal-derived ingredients no longer qualify.
  • A new indicator (7.2) requires an analysis of the dining service spend in regard to diverse and socially preferable suppliers.
  • A comprehensive list of differences can be found in the STARS 3.0 Summary of changes.

What type of food and beverage inventory is required under Indicator 7.1?

For transparency, an inventory of qualifying purchases must be provided. The inventory may be in any format as long as sufficient information is provided to justify each product’s inclusion, including its name/description and the sustainability criterion met (i.e., a specific certification/ecolabel or a note that the product was sourced from a qualifying campus farm/garden or small producer). A template is available below. 

For plant-based foods, an itemized inventory is not required, however sufficient information must be provided about the broad categories used in the analysis to allow an independent reviewer to understand how the percentage of spend on plant-based foods was determined. This information may be included in the template or provided in the relevant narrative documentation field.

Do local food purchases count under Indicator 7.1?

A local product must be sustainably/ethically produced or plant-based to qualify. In other words, a product does not qualify solely on the basis of its point of origin. 

How do I identify plant-based foods for Indicator 7.1?

The simplest approach is to count as plant-based only those broad categories of food and beverage products for which all of the items are clearly plant-based, for example:

  • Produce
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes and soy foods
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Plant oils
  • Herbs and spices
  • Coffee and tea

Alternatively, you could estimate your institution’s plant-based spend by subtracting expenditures on multi-ingredient products, processed foods, and animal products (i.e., meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, and dairy) from total expenditures.

These approaches are recommended because they are much less time-intensive than conducting a line item inventory of all food and beverage products and are still likely to capture the vast majority of plant-based purchases. Classification must be done conservatively, however, to exclude categories that are apt to include animal-derived or ultra-processed foods. For example, broad categories of “prepared foods” would need to be excluded. Likewise, a category of “fruit juice” could be included, but a category of “fruit drinks” (which may include fruit-flavored soft drinks or water) would not. For further reference, here are some suggested categories to include as plant-based based on UNSPSC and GDSN codes. 

If the data are readily available, however, and you want to take a deeper dive, you may also include simple processed foods that are clearly plant-based, as well as vegetarian/vegan alternatives to meat and dairy. Guidance on identifying plant-based foods at this level of detail is available here

Unlike certified products, it is NOT required that you include itemized information about every product counted as a plant-based food. The percentage of expenditures on plant-based products is sufficient.

Do “Certified Non-GMO” products count under Indicator 7.1?

GMO-free foods and Certified Non-GMO foods do not count in the absence of another qualifying attribute. In order for a product to count, it must be sustainably or ethically produced as determined by one or more of the standards listed in Standards and Terms. For example, GMO-free would count as sustainable/ethical if it were also certified Organic.

Can purchases of non-edible food accessory products be counted under Indicator 7.1?

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

What types of social impact suppliers qualify under Indicator 7.2? 

Consistent with the Anchor Learning Network, social impact purchasing is defined as purchasing that is directed toward improving societal health and well-being and catalyzing prosperity for all, particularly those impacted by a legacy of divestment and discrimination. 

Social impact suppliers therefore include:

  • Enterprises owned by people from marginalized groups,
  • Employee owned enterprises,
  • Social enterprises, and
  • Certified B Corporations

Resources, Templates & Tools

Suggestions for Institutions

  • It may take some time to complete a comprehensive food and beverage purchasing inventory. Consider getting started on this early in the data collection process.

Potential Data Quality Issues

  • Indicator 7.1. Numeric outlier – Reporting a sustainably or ethically produced percentage of 20% or more.  If a higher percentage is reported, check closely to ensure that the inventory is comprehensive and that only qualifying standards or certifications are being counted. 
  • Indicator 7.1. Numeric outlier – Reporting a plant-based foods percentage of 80% or more. If a higher percentage is reported, this may indicate misinterpretation in how plant-based foods are defined and/or calculated.
  • Indicator 7.1. For transparency and to help ensure comparability, a completed STARS 3.0 Food and Beverage Purchasing Inventory template or equivalent inventory must be provided to document purchases that qualify as sustainably or ethically produced. The inventory must provide sufficient information to justify each product’s inclusion, including its name/description and the sustainability criterion met (i.e., a specific certification/ecolabel or a note that the product was sourced from a qualifying campus farm/garden or small producer). 
  • Indicator 7.1. Sampling – Institutions must track food and beverage purchases for a 12-month consecutive period or use a representative sample that includes data from a full academic term or similar period. When using samples, institutions must accommodate for seasonal and other variations in food and beverage availability and purchasing. 
  • Indicator 7.2. If scoring full points, the descriptive responses should include sufficient detail to affirm that at least 10% of dining service spend is with social impact suppliers (e.g., enterprises owned by people from marginalized groups, employee owned enterprises, social enterprises, and Certified B Corporations.

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