What We're Doing
By planning our meals well in advance, we can purchase as many fresh, organic and locally produced ingredients as possible.
We are continuously searching for more sources of locally produced foods.
Most of the entrées served at The Dining Room, UTK and Faculty-Staff Club, as well as many of our grab-n-go items at the Aztec Markets are prepared from scratch, on campus, using fresh ingredients and without any preservatives.
SDSU Dining is committed to sustainable, locally sourced gardening. We utilize two campus gardens (the College Area Community Garden and the Faculty-Staff Club Garden) to source plant-based menu items that we consistently use in our kitchens. Ingredients harvested in these gardens and enjoyed by our campus community customers include tomatoes; sugar snap peas; corn; bell peppers; zucchini; yellow squash; basil; and eggplant.
All buildings' electrical locks, temperature controls and lighting devices are on timers and are not left on when the buildings are closed.
All Aztec Markets open air coolers have thermal curtains to conserve electricity when Markets are closed.
As part of our green initiative, SDSU Dining collects pre-consumer food waste in special bins which are then taken to a composting site where the food waste is mixed with yard waste to create compost. This effort reduces the amount of organic material going into the waste water stream or landfill. SDSU Dining began a composting initiative campus wide in 2008. We divert around 240 tons of food waste from landfills each year.
- Compost is a sustainable process that diverts "waste" food from the landfill and puts it back into the soil. Compost is the decomposition of organic material, specifically of nitrogen (from food waste) and carbon (from branches, leaves, anything "brown" – dry and from nature), to produce a natural, rich organic fertilizer. Decomposition is a natural process; composting is merely speeding up this process. There are many different methods of composting, but the key elements are carbon and nitrogen. Once you combine these, the compost naturally heats up (accelerating the decomposition process.) The only further attention needed is to mix the compound periodically to allow the elements to break down and create compost.
Our oil filtration system greatly extends the life of the frying oil in all of our campus locations.
In 2002, SDSU Dining began working a company to collect the used frying oil from our campus restaurants, once it is no longer viable for frying food, and turn it into burnable bio-diesel fuel.
The byproduct of this process is turned into glycerin which is used to make soap. SDSU Dining diverts about 5,304 gallons of oil waste per year from the waste stream.
For the past few years SDSU Dining has been committed to going cage free campus wide. The Dining Room, UTK, the Faculty-Staff Club and our catering departments all use 100% cage free eggs.
Less Meat Mondays and Every Day
SDSU Dining offers vegetarian and vegan options every day. The Dining Room, UTK, Faculty-Staff Club, all the Aztec Markets and many of the dining options at West-End Plaza and East Commons offer vegetarian and vegan options on a daily basis.
SDSU Dining is committed to using environmentally conscious vendors, such as:
US Food Service, our main food distributor of dry goods, is dedicated to building stronger communities and creating a cleaner environment. They work with vendors to fight hunger; form partnerships to ensure that facilities and fleets reduce their carbon footprint, and seek out sustainable products for their customers.
"US Foods has long recognized the importance of reducing environmental impact by minimizing waste, conserving resources and recycling materials. Sustainability improves every aspect of our business and helps the communities where we do business."
American Produce, our main supplier of produce is a family owned business and is one of the few truly local providers of quality fresh produce, providing quick, responsive service from their distribution facility in National City.
The SDSU Bakeshop each day produces all the campus baked goods found in most of our campus restaurants. No preservatives are used and there is less fuel burned with reduced deliveries to campus.
The weekly SDSU Farmers' Market began in September 2009 with only eight food vendors. It has since blossomed, with more than 20 booths ranging from produce and a variety of cultural food vendors to live music.
The SDSU Farmers' Market is committed to providing all students, faculty, staff as well as the surrounding community with local, organic and sustainable food options. Our market promotes ecological, economic and a sustainable food supply.
- Reusable meal containers
- Frisbee plates
- No Styrofoam
- No plastic bags
- No bottled water (or plastic bottles of any kind)
In 2010, the Faculty-Staff Club stopped using paper cups and instead distributed re-useable cups to all members. This change diverts about 36,000 paper cups from landfills each year. In 2011, the Club stopped using paper napkins, which diverts around 30,000 paper napkins from the landfill each year.
The herb garden at Faculty-Staff Club was started in 2009, in partnership with campus students, and provides 100% organic fresh garden items to the campus community.
In 2011, the Club decided to go tray-less in order to reduce food waste and water/energy consumption from the washing the trays. This change reduces water consumption by about 160 gallons per day.
Our Go Topless! Campaign encourages customers to go topless with their disposable cups. We encourage our customers to only use a plastic lid for their drink when necessary in order to reduce plastic consumption on our campus.
The Use One Less! Campaign informs our student body that using just one less napkin with each meal can reduce more than a billion pounds of napkins from landfills each year.
In 2008, SDSU Dining started the "What's your Excuse?" Campaign promoting the recycling of all recyclable products campus-wide.
Several locations at East Commons (Vinnie's and So-Cal Chicken) began providing re-useable plates and bowls in 2010 to reduce paper product consumption in our largest and busiest food court area.
In 2010, SDSU Dining purchased a high-efficiency dishwasher which reduces water and electricity usage at East Commons.
The Dining Room
Our largest and only, all-you-care-to-eat facility on campus is a leader in sustainability. In 2007, The Dining Room went tray-less. Tray-less dining conserves half of a gallon of heated water per tray; it also reduces food waste, and the energy and chemicals used to wash trays.
In addition, The Dining Room:
- Composts pre and post-consumer food waste
- Recycles all cardboard and paper products
- Uses non disposable items throughout the year
- Collects and recycles the bottles and aluminum cans that customers leave behind
- Recycles all used batteries and uses rechargeable batteries
SDSU Catering utilizes a variety of biodegradable service ware, as well as products made from recycled materials. Three electric golf carts are part of the catering fleet which helps to reduce our carbon footprint on campus.
SDSU Dining Concessions department is constantly evolving and finding new ways to save the planet…one plate at a time:
- All food trays and pizza boxes are made of recycled cardboard
- No Styrofoam™
- Provides recycling bins for customers
- Concessions uses only compostable plates, utensils and cups
- Earth Day Week: Concessions uses 100% compostable plates, utensils and cups
SDSU Dining Corporate Office
At the SDSU Dining Corporate Office, we are committed to supporting both the environment and sustainability. For example we:
- Use only paper that is FSC certified which supports environmental groups such as the Rainforest Alliance and WWF (World Wildlife Fund)
- Recycle all paper, plastic bottles and cans
- Recycle scrap paper for note pads
- Use light sensors in offices to reduce energy use
- Use recycled printer ink cartridges
SDSU Dining also re-purposes many items from one unit to another, not only in an effort to save money, but also to keep unwanted but usable items out of the landfill. Uniforms, linens, trays, decorations, dinnerware and various large and small service equipment pieces are re-purposed.
- All packaging materials are recycled
- Electric golf carts used when possible
- All pallet wrap is recycled
- No Styrofoam™ used in our Market Fresh branded products
- We use deli case night covers in all market locations. Night covers enhance the efficiency of compressors in open refrigeration display cases by deflecting warm air and preserving ideal temperatures within the case. Covers save energy by substantially reducing the energy consumed by the refrigerator compressors
- All Aztec Market locations recycle ALL cardboard from any source
- Recycle bins are located in each unit campus wide
- Aztec Markets have a refillable cup program for all coffee and soda products
- Water fountains are available at all locations
- All Aztec Market locations carry a wide assortment of organic products
- All of our Market Fresh branded products, as well as our soups, breakfast pastries and Market Select Entrees, are made at our on-campus bakeshop or food production areas and have no preservatives. They do not require shipping or freight as they are delivered each day campus wide.
- Aztec Markets only print receipts upon request
- Plastic bags are only available upon request
UTK (University Tower Kitchen)
A full service a la-carte restaurant located at the corner of Montezuma and 55th, featuring naturally prepared fresh food in an open environment. UTK is a wonderful fusion of comfort items and trend setting culinary creations with a modern sustainable philosophy.
- Environmentally designed building
- Pre & post-consumer waste diversion and recycling
- Operable windows
- Recycled building materials
- Made from scratch cooking
- Big Ass Fans® -Big Ass Fans® creates products that increase thermal comfort, productivity, and air distribution effectiveness with minimal environmental impact.