UCSB Residential Dining Services is taking strides to protect, preserve and regenerate our environmental resources by practicing “earth-friendly” dining, and helping UCSB on its way to becoming a sustainable community. It is our hope that these initiatives will have a positive impact on our local environment and will make a difference in the lives of those who pass through our doors year after year.
Committed to Sustainable, Local, and Organic Foods
Our commitment to our customers consists of menu items and offerings made from scratch with fresh, natural and seasonal ingredients, with minimal additives, processing and pesticide use. Our dedication to wellness – personal and environmental - includes offering a large variety of healthy and sustainable food choices. Following are some of the daily offerings in the dining commons:
- Local Produce – 46% of fresh produce is grown on local farms (within 250 miles), over 25% is organic and/or sustainably grown without pesticides, and 38% of total food purchases are considered sustainable, according to the University of California's definition of sustainable food. Partnerships with local distributors, including Harvest Santa Barbara and The Berry Man, Inc., allow for 24-hour deliveries for a farm to fork experience
- Certified Organic Milk
- Fair-Trade Organic Coffee
- Local Grass Fed Beef (every Thursday)
- Cage-Free Chicken Breasts (in select dishes)
- Local Olive Oil
- Certified Organic Salad Dressings
- Certified Organic Tea
- Local Honey
- Sustainable Seafood – following the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guidelines and a member of the Santa Barbara Sustainable Seafood Program
- Offering a large variety of vegan and vegetarian options at every meal and completely vegetarian menus on Green Mondays three times a quarter
Waste Reduction & Responsible Waste Management
- Composting 100% of pre- and post-consumer food waste, recycling and diverting 90% of total waste from the landfills
- Practicing tray-less dining to reduce food waste, water and energy use
- Recycling all cooking oil waste for use as biodiesel fuel
- Using compostable disposable products for Special Events Catering & Concessions
- Cooking from scratch in small batches to reduce waste
- Buying in bulk to reduce waste from packaging and minimize the frequency of product deliveries
- Purchasing from vendors with a proven track record of environmental responsibility
- Creating a paperless environment by providing up to the minute information through the DigiKnow network
- Promoting Zero-Waste events for Special Events Catering & Concessions
- Partnering with Environmental Protection Agency on Food Recovery Challenge
Education & Outreach Programs
- Sponsoring annual events focused on sustainability and nutrition education (Earth Day, Green Mondays, Nutrition Week, Sustainable Seafood Day and Sustainability Week)
- Implementing Dining Services Sustainability Strategic Plan with a vision, goals and outcomes to 2015
- Collaborating on projects with student groups including the Residence Halls Association, Environmental Affairs Board and Associated Students Recycling
- Selecting students from the Environmental Studies department for our Residential Dining Services Environmental Studies Internship Program (learn more...)
- Connecting through social media and updating our customers through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and DigiKnow
- Providing ongoing sustainability training to staff and students, using Peer Expert teams and knowledgeable employees
- Member of the UCSB Sustainability Change Agents
- Member of the University of California Food Policy and Sustainability Group
Sustainable Building Practices & Energy Efficiency
- Green Business Certified – all Dining Commons, Special Events Catering & Concessions are certified - satisfying stringent standards set by the Santa Barbara County Green Business Program
- Purchasing Energy Star-rated and Energy Efficient equipment
- Installing “ventilation on demand” systems in our kitchens saves hours of wasted electricity usage
- Incorporating energy-saving lighting systems in our renovations and new construction
- Using electric, hybrid and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles
“What’s in the Works?”
- Waste Tracking – conducting food waste audits to identify opportunities, make adjustments, and reduce food waste
- Food Waste Compost – closing the loop by using 100% of our food waste compost throughout our Housing & Residential Services grounds
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Food Recovery Challenge Award 2015.
- National Association of College & University Food Service (NACUFS) Sustainability Awards 2013 Bronze standing for Procurement Practices.
- Sustainability Tracking and Rating System (STARS) Program’s Gold Rating Award 2011-2012.
- Winner of the “2010 Energy Efficiency Partnership Program for Sustainable Food Service Operations,” presented at the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference.
Also see H&RS Earth-friendly Living.