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At Vanderbilt Campus Dining, we take responsibility for doing our part to support the well being of our guests and for supporting the health of our environment. Our sustainability program is designed to give you information about our kitchen principles and how they affect your environment, community and well being.

The Menus of Change – University Research Collaborative

We are proud to be a part of The Menus of Change University Research Collaborative. MCURC is a dynamic, invitational network of leading university-based scholars, foodservice business leaders and executive chefs which collaborate on research and education in support of culinary-centric, evidence-based food systems innovation within and beyond universities.

This initiative leverages the unique position of universities to advance healthier, more sustainable life-long food choices among students—who will soon be parents and adult decision-makers—by connecting a diversity of insights from academic programs, dining services and athletics (performance dining).

Its principles include:

  • Transparency – provide customers with abundant information about food production, sourcing, nutrient info, and environmental impact
  • Buy Fresh and Seasonal, Local and Global – start local first and expand as needed
  • Reward Better Agricultural Practices – the environmental cost of food is largely determined by how it is produced
  • Leverage Globally Inspired, Largely Plant-Based Cooking
  • Focus on Whole, Minimally Processed Foods – focus on foods which are less likely to contain high levels of added sugars, trans fats, and sodium
  • Grow Everyday Options, While Honoring Special Occasion Traditions – expand choices to enhance nutrition, embrace sustainability, and exceed consumer values
  • Lead With Menu Messaging Around Flavor – focus on taste to create consumer excitement around sustainability
What’s Happening on Campus Now:

Serve more kinds of seafood, more often.

Substantially reducing sugary beverages with innovative replacements

  • Addition of hydration stations across campus
  • Reduction of soda options in fountain machines
  • Adding sparkling water dispensers and more tea options

Serve less red meat, less often.

  • Reduced number of times beef is offered while increasing seafood and vegetarian options
  • All of our burgers across campus are 75% beef and 25% mushrooms.
  • We also have the Impossible Burger offered at our burger stations. (plant-based option)

Use poultry and eggs in moderation.

  • We serve only cage-free eggs across campus.

Reduce portions.

  • While emphasizing calorie quality over quantity.


Overall Waste Reduction:
  • We have removed all plastic straws and bags from dining operations
  • We have converted all disposable cups, containers, flatware, and napkins to compostable material
  • We have removed trash cans from Rand, Commons, and Pub in order for students to use tray returns to be able to properly dispose of waste.
  • We have implemented Fusion menu management system and food production processes in dining operations
  • Installing LeanPath waste tracking systems across campus. Leanpath‘s innovative technology and practices are used to reduce waste by avoiding overbuying and unwanted food donation programs.
  • Adding dish room at Kissam in Fall 2019 to support the conversion to reusable dish-ware and to-go containers
  • Joined the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge in December
  • We have removed all plastic water and soda bottles from our dining operations.
  • We have partnered with Fill it Forward to launch a reusable container program in all of our residential dining halls.

Food Waste

  • Reduce
    • Through collaboration with FutureVU Sustainability, the university has already implemented food waste collection for composting at all of our major Dining facilities and will continue to expand. Additionally, we use Leanpath‘s innovative technology and practices to reduce waste by avoiding overbuying and unwanted food donation programs.
    • CBORD Fusion is the company’s newest cloud-based solution specifically designed for the Higher Education market. CBORD Fusion offers a complete food and nutrition solution from menu planning to production, food service operations, purchasing and cost management, student mobile nutrition information, with quick access to critical data needed to run a rapidly changing campus dining environment. The system is designed for campus operations to improve and control processes from the loading dock to multiple dining venues.

Eliminating Plastic

Vanderbilt University recently announced a comprehensive long-term strategy to significantly reduce its environmental footprint in part by powering its campus entirely through renewable energy and reducing waste, putting the university on track to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Backed by broad student and University support, the university plans to meet its 2050 commitment with a multi-tiered approach, including reducing consumption and waste. The university is currently in the process of developing a Zero Waste Study, which includes eliminating single use plastic on campus.

Vanderbilt Campus Dining is eliminating all single-use plastic in dining facilities across the University, which includes plastic water and soda bottles starting Fall 2019. Vanderbilt also increased the number of rapid water bottle filling stations on campus to aid in this effort. This will help reduce the number of single-use plastic bottles sold each year by over 390,000 (more than enough to cover a football field)!

Read more about this initiative here.

Learn more about Campus Dining’s efforts with FutureVU and Vanderbilt’s push toward carbon neutrality here.