Our food is particularly emblematic of sustainability, a personal and literal symbol of the connection between the social and the environmental. The physically closer we are to the original sources of our food, the greater our ability is to affect positive change.

At all three campuses, focusing on local food sources means we are engaging with, investing in, and providing support to our local food systems while reducing the carbon footprint of our community.

Target actions for 2022

View actions for past fiscal years

Sustainability plan guiding principles

  •  Ensure students achieve sustainability literacy
  •  Choose our research conscientiously
  •  Keep equity and inclusion at the center
  •  Use resources responsibly
  •  Decarbonize

UW Housing and Food Services (HFS) Dining will actively seek to partner with suppliers and local vendors to raise the fraction of foods procured from within a 250-mile radius five percentage points, to a total of 35% of all foods procured. These Actions will aid in the support of the local food system while reducing the overall carbon footprint.

Steps we will take in FY 2022

  1. Analyze existing product purchases from our primary distributor in an effort to identify opportunities to migrate spend to local business within 250 miles of campus.
  2. Expand current UW Farm programming; enhance interdepartmental collaboration and planning.
  3. Increase student engagement through local vendor stories, tabling, and student facing information and resources.

Responsible party

Housing & Food Services

Statuses and linkages

To be successful and maintain a sustainable procurement approach, HFS Dining will need to balance the UW community demand with budgetary allowances as the increase of 1% year over year may result in higher food costs. In the event that these changes lead to higher food costs, UW Dining will seek direct support from Committee and Executive Leadership in the justifications for increased costs as result of this target. Additionally, HFS Dining will monitor the tolerance of higher priced menu items and will address the need for reevaluation of this target in the event increased costs are not tolerated and cannot be mitigated.

Financing

Financing for FY 2022 is contingent as described below.

The cost of food is considered an operating cost within the HFS Dining budgets and is a part of the greater annual fiscal year budget creation and ongoing budget management processes. As a self-sustaining auxiliary, HFS Dining operates without outside financial assistance, including from the University of Washington or state funds. As a result, the services it provides are largely paid for through operating revenue from on-campus customers.

Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are complex considerations with upcoming budget creation and management. HFS Dining’s operating revenue is directly dependent upon the resident occupancy and number of people on campus. Additionally, HFS Dining will need to make changes to accommodate necessary regulations stemming from COVID-19 which are likely to come at an additional cost. All of these elements will need to be considered in conjunction with the potential increased costs of local food when pursuing these targets and may impact food cost budget.

Metrics

  • Percent of food expenditures on sources within 250 miles. (Additional metrics to be defined during FY 2022.)

Increasing plant-based food options provides choices that are healthy for both our community and our planet. Recent science tells us plant-based options have been shown to emit lower greenhouse gasses than animal-based products. This focus allows UW Dining to provide more sustainable options on campus, including those grown sustainably and responsibly within our local food system.

Steps we will take in FY 2022

  1. Expand plant-based options available to students in food service units.
    • Develop additional plant based options for Dining menus.
    • Increase plant-based protein purchases.

Responsible party

Housing and Food Services

Statuses and linkages

Plant-based food will support our local food purchase while reducing associated greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, increased plant based options will continue to support the UW Farm program on UW Seattle campus.

Financing

  • No additional funding needed.

Metrics

  • Plant-based options as a total percentage of menu items
  • Total amount of plant-based proteins by pound per MCURC Protein Flip reporting
  • AASHE STARS plant-based reporting

Food systems play an important role for sustainability practices. It can significantly reduce carbon emissions from production and natural resource use, while ensuring sourcing is ethically and responsibly managed.

Steps we will take in FY 2022

  1. Collaborate with faculty Dr. Yona Sippos from the UW Nutritional Sciences Program to increase student led research around plant-forward impact and education.

Responsible party

Housing and Food Services

Statuses and linkages

Supports Target III, Campus as a Living Laboratory. Increase sustainability related research on campus. Increase student engagement in campus sustainability.

Financing

Needed financing will be assessed in FY22.

Metrics

  • Establish baseline on the number of students engaged with research project.