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What is KU Dining Services doing with sustainability? What is sustainability, anyway? According to the KU Center for Sustainability, it is generally defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It involves making decisions that preserve the values of environmental, economic, and social responsibility.” KU Dining Services is proud to say it is an active campus partner in the sustainability effort. Read below to see all that KU Dining Services is doing to support this initiative.

Keepin’ It Green!

  • Partnership with KU Recycling
    • Cardboard (over 145 tons annually), aluminum cans, plastic (over 6 tons annually) , newspaper/office paper and tin cans (over 7.2 tons annually)
  • Used cooking oil donation to KU Biofuels Research
    • 150 gallons each week
  • Trayless dining in all residential dining centers leading to a decrease in energy use, water consumption, trash to landfill with overall reduction of:
    • 37% food waste
    • 55% of beverage/liquid waste
    • 20% paper of post-consumer waste
  • Changed to Earth friendly biodegradable/made from recycled material disposable ware in all retail locations
  • “Lose the Lid” campaign: Overall reduction in plastic lid purchases by 33% in the initial year
  • Roof top garden Homegrown herbs and tomatoes
  • Staff and customer education on sustainability measures
  • Thinkin’ Green staff training program
  • Use of locally grown and processed foods in nearly all campus locations
  • Organic foods concept “Market Fresh” (The Market)
  • Partnership with Coca-Cola® on environment friendly programs
  • Piloted nationwide Coca-Cola® recycling campaign, “Give it Back”
  • Participate in KU Sustainability Day and Earth Day events
  • Farm to Cart local produce buying program, held during growing season at The Market
  • Composting programs have diverted over 500 tons of waste from the landfill annually
  • KU Dining administrative office is listed as one of KU’s green offices by KU Center for sustainability.

KU Dining Services believes in giving back to the communities that it serves. Over the last several years, KU Dining has raised funds for these worthwhile charities:

  • Daily Bread Food Bank
  • Heart to Heart International (Greensburg, Kansas tornado relief)
  • Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer Research
  • Make-a-Wish Foundation
  • Rain Barrels on Parade Program – a collaborative effort between Coca-Cola® , Environs, Center for Sustainability and KU Dining. Proceeds go to the KU Rain Garden.

More education, expansion and partnerships:

  • Conduct more staff training sessions with a sustainability focus and buy-in
  • Expand support of local growers
  • Expand organic offerings based on consumer demand/feedback
  • Research and increase use of earth friendly products (cleaning and ware washing chemicals; cleaning supplies; disposables in retail locations)
  • Waste reduction strategies (energy conservation, food conservation/waste reduction)
  • Building “green” in new construction/facility renovations/equipment replacements
  • Develop partnerships with campus departments and/or student groups to assist with on-going efforts toward our sustainability programs/goals (research going “trayless” and conduct a study on how much this results in a reduction in customer food waste; energy conservation methods-how can we as a department/building/unit work toward energy reduction strategies)
  • Assist in the efforts thru marketing sustainability to KU (advertising and public relations; partner with Bookstore or other groups on a possible reusable bag program; researching a reusable water bottle/cup program)

KU Dining Services integrates our sustainability initiatives into our daily operating procedures. Through these efforts and in coordination and cooperation with the Campus Sustainability Plan, we continue to be proud partners with the following campus departments and organizations:   Click here for info about Vendor Partners.

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For more information about the KU Memorial Unions or any of its services, including KU Dining and KU Bookstore, please contact JJ O'Toole-Curran,; 785-864-2436. Click to read more.
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