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:
UVA's Blended Burger! In partnership with Seven Hills Food Co., we are now serving blended burgers (80% Virginia beef, 20% mushrooms) in all dining rooms. 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) certificaiton 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, and will serve MKG potatoes in Fall 2018.
Game Day Challenge We have done zero waste events at one football game, basketball game, and baseball game this past year to divert waste from landfills. Waste produced at the games is sorted by patrons and volunteers into the correct bins: compost, recycling, and landfill.
Dine Green with U.Va. Dining! Through U.Va. Dining’s ongoing commitment to reducing our environmental impact, three of our locations have achieved Green Restaurant Certification.
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 a free reusable to-go program, as well as efficient energy and water appliances throughout the café.
To learn more about our Green Restaurant Certified locations on Grounds, please visit here.
Composting. U.Va. 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 U.Va. 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 more. The U.Va. Student Garden, located across McCormick Road from O’Hill, uses the finalized compost product in the garden.
Cupanion: Our Reusable Mug Rewards Program. U.Va. 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 Cupanion app, scan the Cupanion barcodes at locations with your phone when using your reusable at our locations, and watch the rewards add up!
Reusable To-Go Container Program. Reusable. Reliable. Ready to go! U.Va. Dining offers a free, convenient way to take food on the go while keeping our environmental footprint small. Students can sign up for a free reusable to-go container with any residential dining cashier. 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.
Advising Dining. Promoting Action. Engaging Students. Students interested in Dining Sustainability are welcome to join the Green Dining Group. We meet every 3-4 weeks during the academic school year to launch new programs, promote sustainable food, and challenge each other. To join, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greens to Grounds. U.Va. Dining supports Greens to Grounds, a student-run CSA that allows U.Va. 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.
Meatless Mondays. In addition to the vegan and vegetarian station, another station will serve a meat-free entrée at lunch and dinner. Reducing meat consumption just one day a week can make room for healthier eating habits and can also lighten your environmental footprint. To learn more about the environmental and health benefits of reducing your meat intake visit the John Hopkins Meatless Mondays Project.
Donating food to the Campus Kitchens Project. U.Va. Dining donates unused portions of dining room food that has been deemed safe by the health inspector to the student-led Campus Kitchens Project. The group feeds underserved members of the Charlottesville community at the Charlottesville Salvation Army, the Hope House, and On Our Own, a mental health and addiction support center.
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.
Recycling 100% of cooking oil. U.Va. Dining partners with Filta Environmental Kitchen Solutions to recycle our used fryer oil into biodiesel!
Recycling metal, plastics, glass & paper. The award-winning U.Va. Recycling program collects all of U.Va. 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.
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 U.Va. The Local Food Hub has supplied U.Va. 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. The Local Food Hub also stands behind U.Va. Dining’s goal of providing educational opportunities to university students and the community by hosting several U.Va. Dining-sponsored tours of their educational farm.
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.
MSC certified. In May of 2014, U.Va. 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
Hydration Stations: We offer several hydration stations; use your reusable water bottle at the filtered water stations to refresh and refuel.
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, U.Va. Dining, the Department of Athletics, and U.Va. 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. U.Va. Dining works seamlessly with the University community in all endeavors related to sustainability. We support U.Va. Recycling, U.Va. Environmental Health & Safety, U.Va. Sustainability at Facilities Management, and student groups related to conservation.
Fine Arts Café. U.Va. Dining's flagship sustainable location serves grilled items, wraps, rice bowls and more that feature a mix of natural, organic, and local ingredients.
In 2008, U.Va. Dining and the Green Dining Group established a hierarchy intended to serve as a set of guidelines by which we prioritize our sustainable food purchases. We strive to purchase first and foremost local foods, and then organically grown, humanely raised, and fairly traded.
Local. U.Va. Dining considers foods local when it is raised, grown, or produced within a 250-mile radius of U.Va. 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.
Benefits of Local Foods:
Supports Virginia farmers and the local economy
Traveling shorter distances reduces C02 emissions
Organically Grown refers to an entire system of agriculture that produces food in a way that emphasizes healthy soil, maintains a strict aversion to synthetic chemicals and pesticides, and promotes biodiversity. Protein, eggs, and dairy products are classified as organic if the animal that produces those items is raised without antibiotics or growth hormones.
Benefits of Organically Grown:
Promotes human health by decreasing pesticide residues
Cultivates healthier soils and waterways, decreasing negative impacts on our environment
Humanely Raised animals are raised in conditions that allow them to engage in their natural behaviors and avoid suffering and exposure to synthetic products.
Benefits of Humanely Raised:
Provides more nutritious food products by raising healthy and stress-free animals without antibiotics.
Fairly Traded items promote direct trade, democratic and transparent organizations, community development, and environmental sustainability. Products that may be Fair Trade Certified include coffee, tea, spices, chocolate, bananas and sugar.
Benefits of Fairly Traded:
Provides laborers with a democratic and fair wage
Ensures that crops are raised in accordance with acceptable environmental standards