Sustainability

Syracuse University Food Services 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 mealtalk@syr.edu.

 

Composting

Food Services and OCRRA (Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency) have partnered on a composting program that helps divert hundreds of tons of food waste away from Food Services dumpsters, returning it back to its organic origins. Since the program’s inception in 2010, Food Services has composted nearly 3,900 tons of pre- and post-consumer waste.

How does it work?

  1. All major Food Services 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. Food Services 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.

Food Services 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.

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Food Recovery Network and Other Food Donations

Food Recovery Network students preparing to deliver dining center food to local agencies.
Food Recovery Network volunteers spring 2022

Food Services 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 Food Services partners with the Food Recovery Network (FRN) to donate food to community agencies in need. This is a national student-run group with a strong program at Syracuse University. The FRN 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 FRN 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 program has grown every year, and now they collect food from all five dining centers on most weekdays. In Fall 2022 alone, over 5,000 lbs. of food was donated. The FRN currently has over 50 volunteers who collect food, distribute to local agencies, and help package meals.

Food Services has plans will collaborate with the FRN next fall to educate students about food waste to teach students how to be more mindful when choosing their meal options.

In addition to our work with the FRN, 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.

 

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Buying Local

Food Services 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. Produce is purchased from New York State growers and vendors whenever possible. Whole fruits and vegetables are available for purchase at Food Works, South Campus Express, and West Campus Express. The produce is also served in our dining facilities and student centers. Local produce is used in recipes whenever possible.

Our geographic location makes it difficult to grow many varieties of produce during certain times of the year. We purchase produce from a local distributor, Syracuse Banana, which works with the local producers and suppliers to utilize their harvests.

Local Businesses Among Food Services 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

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Other Sustainability Efforts

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.

Fill it Forward

Our community at Syracuse University is helping make an impact on people and the planet. Join us on our mission to inspire the world to reuse!

With the Fill it Forward app, students, faculty, and staff can track the impact of their personal use reusable bottles. Every scan unlocks a donation and tracks the environmental impact of diverting another single-use item from our landfills and oceans.

Plus, we will have monthly drawings that feature Syracuse University gear and other exciting prizes. Each time you fill up and scan, you get a ticket towards the drawing.

Water bottle stickers are available at all dining centers and cafes.

As of this week the Syracuse University group has 794 members

Environmental Impact:

  • 452.58 kwH saved
  • 23.82 lbs waste diverted
  • 770.18 lbs emissions saved
  • 4.76 lbs ocean pollution prevented

Way to go Syracuse!

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