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


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 the major Food Services locations collect food discarded during preparation. In the dining centers, students separate food scraps and napkins in our 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 the 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 Services does its best to reduce food waste by carefully planning each day’s production and by composting. However, it’s very difficult to end up with zero leftovers at the end of each day. That’s why the Food Recovery Network (FRN) is so important. The FRN is a national, student-run organization that donates unused food from Syracuse University’s dining centers, cafes, and student centers. The food collected is distributed to local social wellness agencies such as homeless shelters, transitional housing organizations, refugee programs, children’s programs, and more.

The program 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 SU dining center and the Trailhead Café on the SUNY-ESF campus. The first year they packaged and delivered over 5,000 pounds of food. Since then, the program has grown substantially. The FRN collects from all five of Syracuse University’s dining centers and Schine Dining in addition to the Trailhead Café at SUNY-ESF.

In addition, Food Services donates leftovers from major Dome and Catering events 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.

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Local Businesses that Supply Food Services:

  • Beak & Skiff – apple products
  • Cabot/McCadam  – cheese products
  • Chocolate Pizza Company – specialty chocolate and candies
  • Cookie Connection – gluten free bakery
  • Davis Brothers Meat – fresh wholesale meat
  • DiLauro’s Bakery – breads and rolls
  • Dinosaur Bar-B-Que- bbq items and sauces
  • Dudley Poultry – fresh chicken products
  • Eva Gourmet – hummus
  • Father Sam’s – wraps
  • Freedom of Espresso – coffee
  • Frito Lay – chips and snacks
  • G&L Davis Co – sausage and meat products
  • Harrison Bakery – kosher baked items
  • Hofmann – hot dogs and sausages
  • Mimi’s Bakery and Café – baked goods
  • New York Bakery – breads and rolls
  • Pascale’s Wine Bar & Restaurant
  • 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
  • Sal’s Birdland – sauces
  • Sweet on Chocolate – specialty chocolates and candies
  • Syracuse Banana – seasonal local produce
  • Upstate Farms – milk, yogurt, and dairy products

Red’s Best Fresh Fish

Red's Best LogoIn response to students’ requests for more fish, Food Services has partnered with Red’s Best to offer delicious, sustainable fish. Red’s Best works with approximately 1,000 fishermen located from Boston to New Bedford, MA. Red’s Best employees assist in unloading the fishermen’s daily catch, preparing it for sale, and finding buyers. Their business model provides fishermen with a guaranteed, sustaining wage while bringing under-utilized fish to the market, and helping to prevent the ocean from being over-fished.

Food Services serves Red’s Best Fresh Fish every Friday in our dining centers, Schine Dining, and Goldstein Dining.

Find out more about Red’s Best here.

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Other Sustainability Efforts

Food Services Water BottleReusable Water Bottles

At the beginning of the fall semester, every student on a meal plan is issued a reuseable bottle. This sustainable bottle gives students the option to take a beverage to-go when they leave a dining center. Since instituting the free reusable bottles, the dining centers have been able to eliminate pre-packaged beverages. Also, students will receive a 20% discount on a fountain beverage when filling up with their Food Services water bottle at an SU cafe or food court.

Reusable To-Go Containers

In addition to the reusable bottles, the dining centers offer eco-friendly take-out containers for students to take a meal from the dining center. After use, students bring the containers back to the dining centers for a clean one. We wash the containers in our sanitizing power washers. These containers create less waste and eliminate disposable containers.

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 switched to paper cups.

Mug Club

In an effort to cut back on the number of cups used for coffee and hot tea, Food Services cafes invite faculty and staff to be part of the Mug Club. The Mug Club encourages sustainability by giving a 20% discount to anyone using the Mug Club. Ask about it the next time you order your hot beverage!

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