Carrot tops emerging from the dirt.

Our Commitment to Sustainability

UC Food Services has incorporated many sustainability initiatives into on-campus dining.

Food Waste Prevention

The approach to waste reduction had two components. First, all dining centers integrated a food waste tracking system called LeanPath to help reduce pre-consumer waste as staff prepare food. Using LeanPath food waste tracking technology, we have measured and reduced food waste in CenterCourt and MarketPointe@Siddall dining centers by 65% since March 2017.

Second, two dining centers are composting post-consumer organic food waste that may be generated from uneaten food.

In 2019, the Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District recognized UC Food Services for their efforts in waste reduction.

A plaque awarded to UC Food Services for 2019 Advancements in Waste Reduction from the Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District.

Ways You Can Decrease Food Waste

Tips for eliminating food waste with images of a plate, a bag of groceries, a refrigerator, a blender, a pitcher of water with fruit and a bowl of soup

Tips for reducing wasted food

  1. In the dining center, take only what you can eat. Come back for seconds if you are still hungry after finishing your first plate.
  2. Make sure you plan ahead and buy the right amount of food so you don't waste it. 
  3. Keep your refrigerator at home organized so you can see and use what you have.
  4. Blend it up. When produce gets over-ripe, use it in a smoothie.
  5. Spice up your water. Use peels of citrus fruits, apples, or cucumber to flavor your water.
  6. Add wilting veggies to soups or stews.

America is losing 40% of our food supply to the landfill; that's 1,250 calories per person per day.

Food Feedback Committee

Food Services hosts monthly feedback meetings where the entire UC community is invited to give voice to their concerns and suggest ideas to improve dining services and options at UC. Meetings are held the second Wednesday of each month at Mick & Mack’s Café.

Cage-Free Eggs and Humane Practices

In collaboration with the Humane Society of the United States, Dining Services has developed a new set of animal welfare principles and purchasing commitments which include the purchase of cage-free only shell and liquid eggs, crate-free veal, and gestation crate-free pork.

Vegan & Vegetarian Options

A designated vegan entree is offered at each meal at Vegan Corner stations. The majority of other stations offer menu options prepared with ingredients selected by the diner, creating the opportunity to customize vegetarian and/or vegan versions.

Plant Strong

UC has earned an A+ on the PETA report card for the past 2 years due to our variety of vegetarian offerings.

Responsible Purchasing

University Dining Services purchases local, seasonal and responsibly raised, grown and sourced products whenever possible. 

For example:

  • We serve 100% of milk we serve is hormone free.
  • 100% of our beef and soy products meet our no deforestation policy.
  • 100% of our palm oil is RSPO Certified.

Food Sourced Locally

UC purchases produce items that thrive in our region (apples, tomatoes, melon, squash, etc.) from a purveyor that deals with local farms. Approximately 65% of annual dining services purchases are sustainable food (e.g., local, and/or certified organic/cage free/humane and/or certified Fair Trade).

Sustainable Seafood

All seafood offered at UC is sourced sustainable in conjunction with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program.

On-campus Ingredients

Bearcats Café has a small herb garden located on the TUC patio. The restaurant incorporates these herbs and spices into their menus and food preparation as much as possible.

Trayless Dining

UC practices trayless dining service to reduce food and water waste. This practice has been in place since 2008.

Fryer Oil Reclamation

Food Services works with a company to manage all fryer oil in a closed system. This system has many benefits including employee safety and increased efficiencies. It’s also sustainable because the used oil is picked up and sent to a facility to be recycled into biodiesel.

Waste Minimization

All of our locations have waste tracking software installed in kitchens to manage food waste. Our kitchen associates can use the software to prevent pre-consumer waste and our students can make mindful choices to decrease post-consumer waste


Our newest location, On the Green, has a state of the art, self-operating composting system that takes food scraps directly from the dish return, sends it through a pulper and dehydrator, then turns the scraps into dry, usable soil, that our partner Go Zero picks up to use at parks in the Cincinnati area.

An industrial size food dehydrator.

Food dehydrator

Food waste before it has been processed through a food dehydrator in a large red trashcan.

Raw food waste

An overhead view of food waste being processed inside the food dehydrator.

Inside the food dehydrator

Food waste after it has been processed through a food dehydrator.

Compost ready for use