2015 Sustainability Report

Together, we’re making a difference. A big difference.

You gave us facts. You gave us opinions. Most of all, you gave us ideas. We put them all into action and, now, Boston University Dining Services is proud to report that BU has made significant sustainable progress in 2014. For instance, you wanted us to procure and serve locally grown and sustainable food. We set a goal of 20% sustainable food by 2018…then reached it three years early! This report presents the results of our student polling and outlines our measurable progress.

Sustainability Student Survey

Thank you for taking the time to share your opinions and provide detailed feedback during our Fall 2014 Student Survey. Together, we’ve made smarter, better-informed, more effective decisions over the last year. And your passion for food sustainability made it possible to achieve our sustainability commitment earlier than 2018.

We heard you.


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Sustainability matters to 90.3% of respondents.

Our sustainability program is important to 90.3% of you—40% of you are most interested in Food Sustainability and 30% of you in Waste Reduction. Specifically, 30% responded that humanely raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat and poultry is most meaningful to you. This past year saw the addition of grass-fed ground beef, hamburgers, and hot dogs. We also started using Humane Certified, antibiotic-free whole chickens. Look out for more sustainable food this fall.

Your interest in eating locally sourced foods, humanely raised meats, and vegetarian and vegan-friendly options was also decidedly positive: 89% of you said you would like to eat these menu items at least once a week. That led to our “Wholesome Roots” program and you’ll see these foods offered throughout the week at each dining room.

“I would prefer if we incorporated more locally-grown produce in order help sustain small business and to use foods that are in season.”

We couldn’t agree more. We are working with local farmers and processors like the Western MA Food Processing Center to expand our local offerings and support the regional food system.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg lettuce.

See how we did it this year!

Serious about sustainability: 20% by 2018 We reached our goal early!

BU Dining Services strives to serve you delicious food while making the most positive impact on the environment and our community. By prioritizing the purchase of food grown, caught, and raised locally, we contribute to a healthy, equitable, self-sustaining food system in New England. We promote agricultural practices that are ecologically sound, socially responsible, and economically viable with our purchasing strategies. The incredible participation and support these programs receive from students make them successful.

Last year we committed to get 20% of our food from sustainable sources. We are proud to announce we met that goal three years ahead of schedule! Over the past year, 22% of our food and beverage purchases met AASHE STARS* sustainable food criteria.

It was tons of work… 328 tons, to be exact.


23 tons of beef

All our ground beef, hamburgers, and hot dogs come from 100% grass-fed cows from Maine Family Farms. That accounts for over 45,000 pounds (23 tons) of beef a year!


55 tons of turkey

Virtually all our turkey on campus, about 110,000 pounds of it, comes from American Humane Certified farms.


250 tons of eggs

All our eggs, over 4 million/year, served on campus are cage-free and American Humane Certified*.


And that's not all:

  • Our whole rotisserie chickens are Humane Certified from Murray’s Farms in New York and Pennsylvania. That’s over 15,000 chickens a year!
  • Our tofu comes from Vermont Soy, which uses only certified organic soy beans grown in Vermont!
  • Our soy milk, beans, honey, coffee, yogurt, and tempeh are certified organic.
  • We support Fair Trade by purchasing Fair Trade coffee and tomatoes.
  • Our cheeses, yogurt, butter, sour cream, milk, ice cream and other dairy products come from New England dairy farms.
  • Most of our potatoes on campus come from potato farms in Maine and Rhode Island!

In progress and looking forward

  • Replace our conventional pork with Humane Certified pork. 100% gestation crate-free pork by 2017.
  • Support more local farms through locally grown, value-added products that extend consumption beyond the New England growing season.
  • 100% sustainable seafood by 2018

What makes a food purchase sustainable?

Food purchases must fulfill one or more of the following categories to be considered a sustainable or socially responsible purchase:

  • local and community based
  • or
  • third-party certified: fair, ecologically sound, and/or humane

Helping to Build a New England Food System

All our hamburgers in residential dining halls come from 100% grass-fed, humanely raised cows in Maine.

That’s 118,000 hamburgers a year!

Our first priority is supporting local

Our mission: BU Dining Services' sustainability program strives to create positive environmental and social impacts through its daily operations and programming. Through responsible procurement, a comprehensive waste reduction and diversion program, and efficient facilities operations, our goal is to reduce our carbon footprint by sending less waste to the incinerator and lessening our reliance on non-renewable energy sources. By sourcing food from local and sustainable farms and producers, our goal is to build and maintain a campuswide sustainable food system to provide the BU community with wholesome options, support the local economy, preserve farmland in New England, and support environmentally friendly agricultural practices.

Meat and Seafood


We heard you!

On the 2014 dining survey, you said that humanely raised proteins are important to you. Over the past year, we’ve shifted 13% of our proteins to humane and local sources.

Sustainability across the US

Our tomatoes come from the Fair Food Program of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida, during the winter months when local tomatoes are unavailable.

From the survey: What sustainable foods are most meaningful to you?

This passion for food sustainability drives our decision making process and made it possible to achieve our sustainability commitment earlier than 2018. Specifically in regard to humanely raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat and poultry, 30% of you responded that this type of sustainable food was most meaningful to you. This past year saw the addition of grass-fed ground beef, hamburgers, and hot dogs. Antibiotic-free, Humane Certified raised and handled, and non-GMO chicken was also added to the menu this past spring and those offerings will increase this fall.

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30.1% Humanely raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat and poultry 29.2% Locally grown produce and other foods 18.3% Fair Trade products such as coffee, bananas, sugar 10.7% Sustainably caught and raised seafood 7.5% Carbon footprint; the environmental impact that your food has 4.2% None of the above—I'm not interested in food sustainability

We made meals that made a difference from their farms to your table.

Shout-out to our farmers! We are pleased to feature four of our hard-working and dedicated farmers and producers this year, who provide Boston University with the highest-quality locally grown and raised food every day.

Meet the farmers

Ocean Spray Orchards

Bridgewater, Massachusetts


Our family has been farming cranberries for 25 years in Southeastern Massachusetts. However, some of our vines have been growing and producing fruit for over 100 years. With approximately 150 acres in production, we preserve over 800 acres of open space, creating habitat to countless wildlife and native pollinators. As part of the over-80-year-old grower-owned Ocean Spray Cooperative, we are proud to produce high-quality, nutritious fruit, and to be stewards of the land for the next generation.

Great Brook Farm

Carlisle, Massachusetts


Great Brook Farm is a family-owned dairy farm with 160 cows that has been producing milk for the Cabot Creamery Cooperative for the past 28 years. The farm invests in modern sustainable agricultural practices such as composting, wastewater management, and rotational crop planting. Having the support of colleges and universities is crucial to the future of dairy farm families like the Duffy family and others throughout New England, in order to sustain dairy farming in our region.

Western MA Food Processing Center

Greenfield, Massachusetts


Since 2009, the Western Mass Food Processing Center has helped local farmers in the region by processing and freezing their fruits and vegetables. Through the center, institutions such as BU are able to utilize local produce throughout the year. The processing center has played a vital role in expanding regional processing capabilities and extending the short New England growing season.

Vermont Soy

Hardwick, Vermont


Todd Pinkham and Andrew Meyer began Vermont Soy in Hardwick, VT, by selling organic soymilk and today includes artisan tofu, which is supplied to BU on a daily basis. Their mission is to support local farmers by buying organic non-GMO soybeans and processing them into healthy, authentic-tasting soy foods.

What is Wholesome Roots?

It’s a weekly menu that celebrates sustainable food by showcasing foods with a lower carbon footprint that are good for both you and the environment. That translates to: local, seasonal fruits and vegetables, humanely raised proteins, Fair Trade and organic coffee, sustainable seafood, and more. Use this day to commit to the environment by eating food that can lower our carbon footprint, principles that can be applied to everyday food choices.

What's new this year?

We’ve partnered with BU Student Government and adjusted “Make a Difference Day” so that only one dining hall hosts it each day. Look out for Wholesome Roots on Mondays at Marciano Commons, Tuesdays at Warren, and Wednesdays at West Campus. You can also participate in monthly roundtable meetings to give constructive feedback and get involved in the dining decision-making process.

From the survey


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45.3% would eat sustainable foods more than once a week 44.2% would eat sustainable foods once a week

Your interest in eating locally sourced foods, humanely raised meats, as well as vegetarian and vegan-friendly options was decidedly positive. The 89% of you responding that you would like to eat these menu items at least once a week helped form the new Wholesome Roots program. You will see these menu items throughout the week at each dining room.

Why is local food better?

Tastes better
It’s fresher
It lowers your carbon footprint
Helps preserve open space in New England
Supports the local economy

The importance of a plant-based diet

Did you know?

Livestock represent about 15% of all global emissions

On average, 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into a single pound of beef

The meat industry generates nearly one fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide

Average distance traveled for any food is 1,494 miles

not to mention 1,800-2,500 gallons of water go into producing a single pound of beef (For comparison, only 50 gallons of water go into producing a pound of corn.)

We spread the word through community outreach

From Farm to Table

BU Farmers' Market

The farmers' market connects consumers to their food sources, emphasizing the importance of supporting local agriculture and producers as well as introducing and fostering the notion of seasonality in New England. Equally important is bringing in local farmers and producers from surrounding communities and establishing a close relationship that fosters trust, understanding, and reciprocity. By connecting local artisans, farmers, producers, and artists, the local economy is stimulated and the University is engaged with the local agricultural and artisan community.

See the Farmers' Market

Ward's Berry Farm CSA

A University-wide farmshare or CSA (community supported agriculture) program started in 2010, offering avid locavores the opportunity to order a weekly box of seasonally harvested produce from Ward's Berry Farm in Sharon, MA. The CSA is the best way to get in touch with New England seasonality and try new fruits and vegetables, grown by your local farmer. Ever cooked with kohlrabi, popped your own popcorn from the kernel, or baked a blueberry pie with some juicy, New England blueberries?

See the CSA Program

Eight years of sustainability


Surpassed Our Sustainable Food Commitment

We achieved our goals for sustainability 3 years early by purchasing 22% sustainable food.
Certified the Fresh Food Company at West Campus, Warren Towers, and the Law School Café as 3-star Certified Green Restaurants®
The annual cranberry-apple field trip grew to over 150 students
Invited to present to the New England region on local food purchasing at the Mass Farm to School Conference, FINE conference, and NACUFS conference
Partnered with Red’s Best to serve sustainable, local seafood from day boats every Thursday night for dinner
Created a boxless boxed lunch option for Catering on the Charles, greatly reducing waste generated by events
Began serving vegan pancakes and daily vegan desserts in dining halls

Working Together to Improve

During the 2014 school year, BU bought more than 100,000 local apples!
BU Dining Services partnered with the School of General Studies' student service group, Club GiiVE, to host "Composting Comes Out" in all residential dining halls, to encourage lower food waste
Hosted a Cabot farmer and local fisherman during Earth Week
Converted 156,000 plastic sandwich bags at Subway to paper
Installed 2 new energy-efficient dish machines at Fresh Food Co. at West Campus, saving millions of gallons of water and tons of energy each year!

Educating the Masses

For Lobster Night, we purchased 8,000 Maine lobsters, 500 pounds of Cabot butter, 24,000 potatoes, and 4,000 cobs of corn! In 2014, Lobster Night will be 100% local.
Certified Marciano Commons, Rize, and Late Night Kitchen as 4-star Certified Green Restaurants®
Chosen as a case study by the Mass DEP's Recycling Works website to prepare other institutions for the organics waste ban in October 2014
Presented on Organics Diversion at the TURI Conference in Marlborough, MA
Presented on Organics Diversion at the MIT Sustainability Summit 2013
Participated in Mass Farm to School's Harvest of the Month
Installed a new energy-efficient dish machine at the George Sherman Union, saving millions of gallons of water and tons of energy each year.

Leaders in Sustainability

1,149 tons of waste diverted from the landfill (due to waste reduction!)
GSU is awarded 3 stars from Green Restaurant Association, the highest GRA restaurant rating in New England and the only food court in the country with a GRA Certification
Field trip to Mass Audubon's Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary for Flapjack Fling
Presented on Third Party Certifications at the AASHE Conference 2012
Presented on Zero Waste at the NECSC Conference 2012
Mayor Thomas M. Menino awards BU Dining Services the City of Boston Sustainable Food Leadership Award
Dining Services hosts Sustainable Agriculture panel
100 Bay State Road Executive Chef Adam Pagan teaches improv cooking classes using the weekly produce in the Ward's Berry Farm CSA box
Boston University received a Silver rating from AASHE STARS

Dining Services was awarded points for sustainable purchasing, composting, and more

Make a Difference Monday goes weekly in dining halls

Building Community Outreach

Impact this year: 1,208 tons of waste diverted from the landfill
Make a Difference Monday begins once a month in dining halls

Make a Difference Monday is a special meal at breakfast, lunch, and dinner in residential dining halls, which celebrates foods with a lower carbon footprint. Dining halls feature more vegetarian options, sustainable seafood, local and seasonal fruits and vegetables, and organic third-party certified foods, instead of higher carbon foods such as beef and pork.

Dining Services holds Sustainable Seafood panel
First field trip, to local dairy farm — Smith's Country Cheese in Winchendon, MA, with Keep Local Farms
Field trip to AD Makepeace cranberry bog and apple orchard for apple picking
Presented on Zero Waste at the AASHE Conference 2011
Boston University received a Silver rating from AASHE STARS

Dining Services was awarded points for sustainable purchasing, vegan dining, and more


CSA and Composting

Impact this year: 1,131 tons of waste diverted from the landfill
First CSA box offered with Ward's Berry Farm

The brainchild of BU student Joe Nangle, Questrom ’12, the Farmers' Market partnered with Ward's Berry Farm to offer a weekly box of seasonal and fresh-picked fruits and vegetables each week to students, staff, and faculty at BU.

Began post-consumer composting at the GSU
Boston University received a Silver rating from AASHE STARS

Dining Services was awarded points for sustainable purchasing, trayless dining, and more


Commitment to Zero Waste

Impact this year: 696 tons of waste diverted from the landfill
25-cent-mug discount is offered for reusable mug usage on campus
Compostable tableware replaces non-compostable
Zero Waste catering begins

Compostable tableware and recycling is sorted behind the scenes at staffed events. Garbage cans begin to disappear from the floor of events in 2010!

First Zero Waste Commencement: 11 tons are diverted

Fueling the Initiative

Impact this year: 508 tons of waste diverted from the landfill
All dining halls go trayless

Food waste is reduced by an estimated 33%

Fryer oil begins diversion to biodiesel
First Farmers' Market
The first sustainability coordinator for Dining Services is hired
The Dining & Sustainability Committee is created

A Commitment to Sustainability

Impact this year: 4.43 tons of waste saved
In partnership with Save that Stuff, all Dining Services employees and managers are trained on how to sort food waste and organics, recycling, and cardboard

Looking forward

Food Donation Program

We’re continuing to work with student groups in the Community Service Center and the Boston community to expand food donation.

Food Production

Our management team and staff are working together to track, review, and reduce food waste.

Boxless Catering

Catering on the Charles has introduced the boxless lunch program to help reduce waste and our guests’ impact on the earth.

Sustainable Purchases

We reached our goal of 20% early and will continue to increase our local and sustainable purchases in support of the regional food system in New England and provide the best food for the BU Community.

This year we certified the Fresh Food Company at West Campus, Warren Towers, and the Law School Café and now all our dining halls are Certified Green Restaurants®.

Seven total—three 4 star, four 3 star—restaurants and the only Certified Food Court in the country!

Certified Green Restaurant - 4 stars

And our commitment to our community doesn't stop there.

Our Student Food Rescue, part of the Community Service Center, donated 2,000 pounds of food in 2014 alone

Student Food Rescue was founded by a group of BU student volunteers in the spring of 1988. Volunteers collect nearly 150,000 pounds of food annually from Boston restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, grocery surplus facilities, and coffee shops.

Get involved

Dining Services donates on a daily basis to several local food banks and shelters through the Community Service Center's Student Food Rescue at Boston University, including:

  • Rosie's Place
  • Boston Rescue Mission
  • Kenmore Abbey
  • Safe Haven for Women
  • On the Rise Women's Shelter

Their hard work helps fight hunger every day in the Boston area.

From everyone here at Boston University Dining Services, thank you for your continued support and another successful year.