Sustainability Commitments

UChicago Dining works to reduce our environmental footprint while developing programs that promote sustainability through environmentally friendly products and practices, sustainable food and local purchasing options, energy and water conservation efforts, and waste management.

Sustainable Food Procurement

  • We emphasize fresh whole foods that are raised, grown, harvested, and produced locally or sustainably wherever possible. 
  • We align with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, which ensures responsible purchasing to help preserve oceans and promote the use of sustainable seafood.
  • Most of the bread in the residential dining halls is purchased from Alpha Baking Company, a Chicago business.
  • 100 percent of our milk is purchased from Bareman’s Dairy in Holland, Michigan, 147 miles from Chicago.
  • We work closely with Cristina Foods, our produce distributor, to purchase locally grown produce in season. 
  • Our cheese is purchased from Belgioioso Cheese, located in Wisconsin.
  • 100 percent of our eggs are cage-free. 
  • We offer fair trade coffee in our cafes and residential dining halls.
  • We support local MWBE (Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises), including Cristina, Tasteful Life, Little Miss Muffin, Saffron, Inc., Asian Provisions, and Noodles, Etc.

Waste Management

  • In coordination with Food Donation Connection, we donate leftover food to the Pacific Garden Mission, the oldest continuously-operating rescue mission in the country, located in Chicago.
  • We divert 100 percent of used fryer oil waste from the landfill through Kaluzny Brothers, Inc. In turn, the fryer oil is converted into biofuels. In 2013, we diverted over 11,000 pounds of fryer oil waste.
  • We compost approximately 8,000 pounds of food waste in the dining halls every week. 
  • PRIMA, our food production system, helps our managers to accurately plan a menu and provide the kitchen staff with exact portion sizes and additional guidelines for reducing waste. It also tracks overproduction and then automatically adjusts menu forecasting the next time that item and menu mix are produced.
  • Our “tray inconvenience” program in the residential dining halls, in which we moved dining trays to the back of the dining hall, leads to less food being wasted and fewer dishes being put through the wash cycle.

Responsible Procurement

  • We purchase Green Seal-certified cleaning products, SCA one-napkin-at-a-time dispensers, and Earth Plus napkins that are made from 100 percent post-consumer material.
  • We offer reusable coffee mug discounts at all cafes and sell reusable water bottles at all retail locations.
  • Paper purchased for our offices is made from recycled materials.
  • Forks, spoons, knives, plates, cups, and to-go serviceware in UChicago Dining retail locations are compostable.