Campus Life: Food Services

The Department of Residential Life, Housing and Food Service currently has a multi‐year contract with Chartwells College and University Dining Services to provide dining services on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Dining Services is comprised of one residence dining hall which serves over 2600 meals per day, as well as a convenience store, a food court, three casual restaurants, a coffee cart, and the Silver and Blue Catering operation. Dining Services is a large campus entity, employing 8 full time managerial staff; 77 full time cooks, chefs, kitchen associates, and service associates; 15 part time staff; and 80 student workers. Additionally, a large catering department is contracted by the University. The goal is to purchase quality food and prepare healthy meals for students, faculty, staff, and guests using locally grown and sustainably produced sources where possible, and use food preparation and distribution practices that minimize energy use and waste generation.

Sustainability efforts underway or in the process of implementation

  • Biodegradable food/kitchen waste is sent to an off‐site composting facility.
  • An additional 1 percent of meal plan revenue is committed to sustainability initiatives.
  • Recycling of fryer shortening.
  • Recycling of plastic, aluminum, glass, and paper. A cardboard recycling bin was added for dining services.
  • The addition of more locally produced products to menus, including salad greens grown hydroponically on campus.
  • A commitment to use the greenest cleaning products available.

Short‐Term Goals (1 year)

  • Design a marketing campaign to educate students, faculty, staff and the community about dining hall sustainable practices and highlighting the best way to reduce, reuse and recycle. This will include updating the campus sustainability website.
  • Minimize disposable trays, plates and utensils and minimize the use of reusable items that require large amounts of water to wash.
  • Conduct tests of biodegradable and compostable flatware and disposables in Food Services. Depending upon the success of the testing, compostable products may or may not replace non‐biodegradable products. These products can be significantly more expensive (50 percent cost increase over regular plastic).
  • Use cleaning chemicals that are Green Seal certified (
  • Support local growers.

Intermediate Goals (1‐5 years)

  • Add as many organic and/or local products as possible.
  • Create an organic café (student initiative).
  • Add sustainability language to all new tenant contracts.

Long‐Term Goals (5‐10 and 10‐20+ years)

  • Replace aging equipment as needed with energy‐efficient ENERGY STAR® models.
  • All purchase orders to vendors will contain language regarding sustainability and sustainable criteria as part of a “basis for award” for all RFPs.
  • Purchase socially responsible food items from firms that fairly support workers by providing a living wage and encourage fair trade. (This will also reduce the transportation distance of goods from their source to our campus thus reducing energy consumption and pollution.)
  • Increase certified sustainable meat, poultry, fish and dairy products and increase certified organic produce. Initiate a pilot program featuring locally grown and fresh, organic produce at the Down Under dining facility.
  • Create a regional closed‐loop food system by observing sustainability criteria for all purchasing, food preparation and service, presentation, cleaning and waste disposal, equipment and supplies, facility design and renovation, and utilities that includes evaluating and improving:
  • The ways in which energy is used and the types of energy used.
  • How waste is managed by promoting recycling and composting.
  • The types of food purchased, emphasizing local and seasonal items.
  • How food is delivered, received and stored. (This is a HUGE emitter of GHG. The distance our food travels is a big problem not only in petroleum consumption but also in refrigeration.)
  • How food is prepared, cooked and served.
  • Work with campus planners and waste disposal company to site a vessel for composting all disposable products, pulp, and post‐consumer waste.
  • Network with other schools, universities, and communities to increase communication and the sharing of best practices for creating a sustainable food system.
  • Provide economical, high quality, healthful and nutritious foods without additives, pesticides or preservatives.

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