Syracuse University Campus Dining has implemented a number of sustainable practices over the years, such as implementing reusable to-go containers and composting food waste in the dining centers, buying local products where we can, and working with students to redistribute unused, quality food into the community. Read below for details on where we’ve made strides to reduce our carbon footprint. We’re always looking for ways we can do more. Contact us with feedback at

Students are an integral part of our sustainability.  By using the Sustainability Centers in our dining centers, you are helping Syracuse University reach our sustainability goals. Here is how it works:

Campus Dining and OCRRA (Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency) have partnered on a composting program that helps divert hundreds of tons of food waste away from Campus Dining dumpsters, returning it back to its organic origins. Since the program’s inception in 2009, Campus Dining has composted over 5,000 tons of pre- and post-consumer waste.

How does it work?

Here is a video that explains our composting program.

Here is a video from OCRRA that explains how food scraps become compost.

  1. All major Campus Dining locations collect food discarded during preparation. In dining centers, students separate food scraps and napkins in recycling centers. This waste is collected in bins for transport. Campus Dining drivers pick up the full bins and deliver clean ones daily.
  2. Bins are emptied into a dumpster behind Physical Plant. Each week the dumpster of food waste is taken to the Amboy Compost Site in Camillus, N.Y. where the process of becoming compost begins.
  3. The recipe for compost is simple: fresh air, yard and food waste, and time (30 days). A portion of the composted soil is used on Syracuse University grounds so the food waste comes full circle.

Campus Dining is proud to be one of the community leaders that works with OCRRA to benefit our environment. Learn more about OCRRA’s composting program here.

Campus Dining does its best to reduce food waste by carefully planning each day’s production and by composting food scraps. However, it’s very difficult to end up with zero leftovers at the end of each day.

Syracuse University Campus Dining partners with the Food Recovery Network  to donate food to community agencies in need. This is a national student-run group with a strong program at Syracuse University. The Food Recovery Network volunteers collect unused food from our dining centers and distributes them to local agencies. These are some of the agencies that benefit:

Project S.O.U.L. at the Neighborhood Association used the food to package meals for families. The Food Recovery Network volunteers often stay to help this organization package up the meals.

The Determination Center provides services for at-risk youth. They help them construct healthy, independent, productive, and stable lives. The food provided ensures that these youths have a good, healthy meal. This is something that they may not be getting at home.

Chadwick Residence for Homeless women and children. Women and children live and learn to be independent at this location. The Chadwick Residence relies on the support of volunteers and donations to serve women at risk with housing assistance both on premises and in the community.

Teen Challenge for teens and adults recovering from addiction. This center offers addiction recovery support through practical and Bible-based courses.

The Food Recovery Network was formed at Syracuse University and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) in 2014. At the time, donations were collected two days a week from one Syracuse dining center and the Trailhead Café on the SUNY-ESF campus. The Food Recovery Network currently has over 50 volunteers who collect food, distribute to local agencies, and help package meals.

In addition to our work with the Food Recovery Network, Food Services donates leftovers from major events and packaged items such as chips and snacks that are close to their expiration date to the Rescue Mission.

Campus Dining recognizes the positive environmental and economic impact of purchasing food from local suppliers and farms, and therefore continues to expand its connections throughout Central New York.

Local Businesses and Suppliers:

  • Barilla Pasta
  • Cabot/McCadam: Cheese products
  • Chocolate Pizza Company: Specialty chocolate and candies
  • Cookie Connection: Gluten free bakery
  • DiLauro’s Bakery: Breads and rolls
  • Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: Barbeque items and sauces
  • Dudley Poultry: Fresh chicken products
  • Eva Gourmet: Hummus
  • Father Sam’s: Wraps
  • Freedom of Espresso: Coffee
  • G&L Davis Co: Sausage and meat products
  • Great Lakes Cheese
  • Harrison Bakery: Kosher baked items
  • Hofmann: Hot dogs and sausages
  • Palmer Foods: Ball tip steaks
  • Pasta’s Daily Bread: Specialty bake shop
  • Paul deLima: Local coffee roaster specializing in fair trade and organic coffees
  • Perry’s: Ice cream
  • Rich’s: Bakery products
  • Syracuse Banana: Seasonal local produce
  • Upstate Farms: Milk, yogurt, and dairy products
  • Zweigles: Breakfast chicken sausage

Elimination of Polystyrene

Campus cafes, student centers, and food courts use PLA plastic and/or sugar cane-based take out containers. All foam cups have been replaced by paper cups.

Reusable To-Go Containers

This fall we will be offering reusable to-go containers in all of our dining centers. This is how the program works:

  • Students may take a free container for their to-go meal in place of the compostable container.
  • When you are finished with their meal, empty any leftovers, and return the used container to any dining center.
  • Students may take a fresh container for another meal. Our commercial washing machines will wash and sanitize the containers each time for reuse.
  • If the container is lost or a student wants a new one, they will be charged $3.