We work together to continually develop and implement sustainable solutions. Through Green Thread, our environmental sustainability platform, we bring innovative and efficient solutions to life. We are passionately focused on reducing the environmental impact within our operations.
Here are just a few ways we work to make our grounds more environmentally conscious:
The Castle is a 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant! The Castle is a plant forward café featuring fresh paninis, salads, grain bowls and infused waters. The café uses all compostable materials and features a mindful eating space. In April 2019, The Castle completed the certification process with the Green Restaurant Association to receive three stars for its 43 environmental steps related to disposables, energy, food, chemicals, waste and water.
Check out our other three locations on grounds that are Certified Green Restaurants below:
O’Hill Dining Room and Fresh Food Co. have received 3 star certification for commitments to purchasing local and sustainable food and beverages, comprehensive waste reduction and diversion programs, incentives for reusable to-go containers and mugs, and efficient energy and water appliances throughout the buildings.
Fine Arts Café – our flagship sustainability café, located in the School of Architecture – achieved a 2 Star Certification for its plant-based menu featuring local and organic ingredients, comprehensive waste reduction and diversion programs including recycling, composting and efficient energy and water appliances throughout the café.
To learn more about our certified locations on Grounds, please visit here.
Trailblazer Award UVA Dining received the Trailblazer Award from Cupanion for diverting 25,000+ single-use cups from the landfill! That’s 1,250 pounds of waste diverted and 4,350 pounds of emissions saved.
UVA's Blended Burger! In partnership with Seven Hills Food Co., we serve blended burgers (80% Virginia beef, 20% mushrooms) in all residential dining rooms and concessions. These burgers are a healthier option, have a lower environmental footprint, and support Virginia Farms and small businesses.
Morven Kitchen Garden achieved GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certification in October 2017, allowing student-grown produce to be grown just for UVA Dining rooms. In Fall 2017 we featured over 500 pounds of butternut squash. In Fall 2018 during our Thanksgiving Feast we served over 100 pounds of kale and mixed greens on our local station.
Composting. UVA Dining partners with Black Bear Composting and Natural Organic Process Enterprise to divert pre- and post-consumer food waste from all residential dining rooms and at select retail locations on Grounds. The program started in 2008 with O’Hill Dining Room and expanded from there to over 20 locations. To date UVA Dining has diverted over 1,000 tons of organic matter from landfills! Look for composting bins and display boxes of items that can be composted at West Range Café, Fine Arts Café, and The Castle.
Cupanion: Our Reusable Mug Rewards Program. UVA Dining partnered with the Office for Sustainability in Fall 2015 to launch Cupanion, a reusable rewards program that aims to reduce waste across grounds. Built into a mobile app that tracks reuse for the University, the Cupanion app distributes rewards for using your own reusable cup or mug in locations across grounds like Starbucks, Greenberry's, and Argo Tea. Simply download the Fill it Forward app, scan the Cupanion barcodes at locations with your phone when using your reusable mug or bottle at our locations, and watch the rewards add up!
Reusable To-Go Container Program. Reusable. Reliable. Ready to go! UVA Dining offers a free, convenient way to take food on the go while keeping our environmental footprint small. Students can ask for a free reusable to-go container in any residential dining location. Return the box after use and Dining washes and sanitizes it with our industrial dishwashers! Hundreds of students use their reusable to-go box regularly, keeping thousands of disposable boxes out of the landfill each year.
E3 Designation. Due to innovative and successful environmental initiatives, we are the only university in Virginia to receive an E3 Designation for Exemplary Environmental Enterprise.
Hydration Stations: We offer several hydration stations; use your reusable water bottle at the filtered water stations to refresh and refuel.
Recycling 100% of cooking oil. UVA Dining partners with Filta Environmental Kitchen Solutions to recycle our used fryer oil into biodiesel!
Recycling metal, plastics, glass & paper. The award-winning UVA Recycling program collects all of UVA Dining’s recyclable items from both the kitchens and dining areas. Metal, plastic, glass and paper are collected from all dining locations and administrative offices.
Recycled Content Paper: We use 30% recycled content copy paper.
Trayless dining. Trays were removed from the dining rooms at the start of the ’08-’09 academic year. This improvement reduced our water and energy usage, and reduced the amount of cleaning chemicals needed.
Game Day Challenge. Supported by the EPA's WasteWise program, Game Day Challenge is a nationwide competition for colleges and universities to promote waste reduction at their home football games. Each fall at the Homecoming Game, UVA Dining, the Department of Athletics, and UVA Sustainability partner to collect and divert food waste from concessions and discarded recyclables. Be sure to keep an eye out for our Game Day Challenge Volunteers at Homecoming, and help us recycle to win!
Outreach. UVA Dining works seamlessly with the University community in all endeavors related to sustainability. We support UVA Recycling, UVA Environmental Health & Safety, UVA Sustainability at Facilities Management, and student groups related to conservation.
Local. UVA Dining considers foods local when it is raised, grown, or produced within a 250-mile radius of UVA with a preference towards foods produced in Virginia. When local items are used in the menu, you are eating seasonal foods; seasonal foods tend to be fresher. We are celebrating Virginia's agricultural roots as we rediscover flavors throughout the seasons! Meet some of the local farmers.
Partnering with Local Food Hub: We partner with the area non-profit Local Food Hub to increase our local food options in residential dining rooms. The Local Food Hub is a distribution organization that works with Central Virginia family farms to aggregate their produce and make it available to large institutional buyers such as UVA. The Local Food Hub has supplied UVA Dining with a variety of food items including asparagus, apples, mushrooms, spinach, delicata, butternut, and acorn squash. This partnership has celebrated a number of events and occasions together, such as the Earth Day Farm to Fork meal, Virginia Farm to School Week, Meat Free Mondays, and much more.
Sustainable Food Strategy Task Force UVA Dining is a key member of this task force that was established in 2016 to implement food related goals outlined in the UVA Sustainability Plan. Since its founding, the task force has published its first Food Action Plan that contains strategies UVA Dining, university stakeholders and other dining providers will use to achieve the university’s ambitious sustainable food goals.
Greens to Grounds. UVA Dining supports Greens to Grounds, a student-run CSA that allows UVA students to purchase fresh, locally grown food with Plus Dollars. Boxes are prepared with the student in mind - to minimize cooking and maximize freshness! Students may participate for one week, or for the entire semester.
MSC certified. In May of 2014, UVA Dining achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) chain of custody certification. At our three residential dining rooms, we feature fish that is sustainably sourced. Read more at MSC.org
Fine Arts Café. UVA Dining's flagship sustainable location serves grilled items, wraps, rice bowls and more that feature a mix of natural, organic, and local ingredients.