Sustainability in Dining

Environmentally Responsible Dining

University Housing Dining Services strives to create an environmentally responsible dining program, from how we source the food, to practices like trayless dining and reducing waste. 

Award-Winning Initiatives

We are proud that our initiatives have helped University Housing win the 2015 Governor's Sustainability Award. Among other Dining awards, we received the 2015 Sustainability in Waste Management award from the National Association of College and University Food Services. The University of Illinois also achieved a spot on the Top 25 Healthiest Colleges list

Local Sourcing

  • 95% of all produce grown at the Sustainable Student Farm is used by Dining Services.
  • Each year, 600,000 gallons of raw milk produced at the University is processed by Prairie Farms and used by Dining Services.
  • 70% of pork products served in the dining halls are produced in Rantoul, IL.
  • 90% of all bread served in the dining halls is baked within the state of Illinois.
  • The University's Meat Science Lab provides over 20,000 pounds of beef annually.
  • Partnership with Central Illinois Produce in Urbana, IL to utilize Hydroponic Produce from the Freight Farm.
  • 90% of all shell and hard boiled eggs served are sourced from Illinois.
  • Beginning in 2017, new local fish program will serve more than 12,000 pounds of Silverfin (Carp) from the Illinois River.
  • Beginning in 2017, make and serve Blended Burgers. Half of the 15,000 pounds of burgers to be served annually will be produced on campus.  

Reducing Waste

  • Ikenberry Dining Hall was participating in a pilot program for recycling the disposable gloves used in the kitchen. This project is in cooperation with the Student Sustainability Committee with funding from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. Read the full article. NOTE: This program has been suspended due to COVID as these gloves are not currently available. 
  • Dining Services participates in numerous waste-reduction programs, including waste recording through LeanPath, including LeanPath Spark, which displays real-time, post-consumer food waste information at the Ikenberry Dining main door, food donations through an in-house process, and other initiatives listed below.
  • Dining Services is now diverting nearly 7 tons of food from the landfill on a weekly basis.
  • Currently operating 3 aerobic digesters, dining is in the process of changing over to a system whereby our food waste is taken to a local aerobic digester to create energy and fertilizer. 3 of these food collection systems called "Grind 2 Energy" are currently operational. 
  • Hormel Statement on Sustainable Practices (pdf)
  • Simplot Company Sustainability Report (pdf)

Recycling Statistics

Recycling Metrics 

  • Glass Recycled - 92,835 pounds
  • Nitrile Gloves Recycled - 5,209 pounds
  • Coffee Grounds Repurposed - 1,973 five-gallon buckets recycled
  • Dining services helped deliver 145,902 meals to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank to benefit those facing hunger and food insecurity through the 220 relief agencies the Foodbank serves. Dining Services also stored and transported 16,240 lbs of white rice to local food pantries and programs, including the Feeding our Kids backpack program in Champaign County, the Wesley Evening Food Pantry, and the Stone Creek Church Food Pantries in Urbana and Rantoul. 

And we lead the way in other sustainability efforts, too!