Culinary Services, one of the largest self-operated, non-franchised college dining services in the nation, takes food waste and recycling very seriously. Each of our campus venues abides by the standards and initiatives set forth by Ohio University and the Office of Sustainability.

Reusable To-Go Container

Green Reusable Container

Sustainability Awards & Accolades

  • 2018 - Ohio EPA E3 Platinum Award - Key Player
  • 2017 - United States Green Building Council (USGBC) awarded LEED Gold certification to Ohio University's District on West Green renovation.
  • 2016 - United States Green Building Council (USGBC) awarded LEED Silver certification to Ohio University's Nelson Court renovation.
  • 2015 - National bronze award winner for Waste Management (NACUFS)
  • 2014 - Departmental Sustainability Award (OHIO Office of Sustainability)

Eat Local. Eat Seasonal.

Eating locally and seasonally supports our region and lowers your carbon footprint. When you eat local, money is going directly to farmers, creating economic growth in our region. They are then able to grow more food. Eating seasonally means that your food isn't traveling far to get to your plate, and is more cost effective.

Seasonal Food Diagram


Local Purchasing

We attempt to purchase local whenever we can; there is no set budget or decision tree for local food sourcing. One of the main considerations is availability. With approximately 3.5 million meals served in Culinary Services' venues each year, product availability is essential in order for our operations to run smoothly. We have large strategic contracts with vendors such as United Dairy (milk) and White Feather Farms (fresh meat) which allow us to purchase locally-sourced products from vendors who can ensure availability. We also work with local produce vendors to purchase items when they are seasonally available. Because of the extremely high volume of product that we purchase and the variability of different food commodity markets, it is a constant challenge to find and secure needed product from local vendors, but our team at the Central Food Facility works very diligently to secure needed product from local suppliers. All food purchased for the University must be traceable back to the farmer, and all producers or handlers of food products must have HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) plans in place.

Local Definitions

Neighborhood Local Product: Foods that are grown, raised, and processed within 100 miles of Ohio University. Ohio University gives preference to these products to support our region and lower our carbon footprint. Look for this logo in our dining venues:

Foods that are grown, raised and processed within 100 miles of OHIO

Local Product: Foods that are grown, raised, and processed within 250 miles of Ohio University. This logo is part of the Fresh is Best campaign, focusing on eating locally and seasonally.

Foods grown, raised and processed within 250 miles of OHIO

Below is a snapshot of some of our local suppliers. Our business with local vendors is in excess of $1.4 million annually. Culinary Services utilizes over 70 vendors for food buying.

Proteins/Meat/Cheese/Eggs/Milk: *

  • Gerber's Amish Farm - Kidron, OH (chicken)
  • R.L. Ranch - Athens, OH (beef)
  • United Dairy - Marietta, OH (dairy)
  • Snowville Creamery - Pomeroy, OH (dairy)
  • Velvet - Utica, OH (ice cream)
  • Cleveland Tofu - Cleveland, OH (fresh tofu)
  • Walnut Creek Foods - Walnut Creek, OH (cheese & deli meats)
  • Cooper Farms - Van Wert, OH (turkey)
  • Indiana Packers Corporation - Various suppliers in eastern Indiana (pork)
  • Sugardale Foods - Canton, OH (bacon)
  • Lanning Foods (local ground beef and hamburgers)
  • Saddleberk Farms (local sausages made with Berkshire pork)
  • Vida's Plant Based Butcher - Columbus, OH (vegan meat alternatives)

*Please note that several of these suppliers are sourced through White Feather Farms, an Ohio distributor who won our fresh meat bid in 2014.

Seasonal Produce:

  • Witten Farm Market - Marietta, OH (peaches, corn, melons, etc.)
  • The Hugus Fruit Farm - Rushville, OH (apples)
  • Wards Farm Market - Parkersburg, WV (pumpkins)
  • Hidden Hills Orchard - Marietta, OH (apples)

Retail Items

  • Crazy Monkey Baking Co. - Columbus, OH (granola)
  • Shagbark Seed & Mill - Athens, OH (chips)
  • Frog Ranch Foods - Glouster, OH (pickles & salsa)
  • Vino de Milo - Athens, OH (sauces and dressing)

Reducing Food Waste

We collaborate with the Office of Sustainability to help educate students on their role in helping to decrease food waste. The District on West Green and Nelson Court provide numerous self-serve concepts in which customers can choose their own portions. Self-service stations have greatly reduced our amounts of food waste. Smaller plates and bowls have also been introduced to reduce post-consumer food waste through more controlled portion sizes.

Vendor Relations

Food purchasing is accomplished on several different levels. The Auxiliaries Procurement and Contracts Manager handles all high-level vendor relations, including bidding of large strategic contracts like milk and fresh meat. Whenever possible, bids are written with local sourcing in mind. Most routine daily food buying is handled by our Senior Procurement Specialist. As mentioned above, the team at the Central Food Facility, under the direction of the Executive Director of Culinary Services, works with suppliers on a weekly basis to find and secure product from local producers in the needed quantities. All food purchases must be in compliance with State of Ohio Purchasing rules, which state that the University cannot spend more than $25K with a single vendor in a single year without going out to bid.

Contract terms vary, but all of our food contracts have an initial term and optional renewals. For example, our milk contract has an initial term of one year, but we can choose to renew it up to fives years. If we do not choose to renew, we rebid the contract.

Central Production

Almost all food is made and produced in our Culinary Support Kitchen (CSK), Vegetable Preparation, or Bakery at Central Food Facility (CFF). All food is handled safely according to the standards of the Ohio Food Code and all employees are trained in safe food handling. All food waste is tracked by dollar amount. In FY 2020 the total cost of food purchased for use in the dining halls was $3,261,621. The dollar value of food we had to waste because it was no longer safe to serve was $25,634. In percentage terms that is a waste factor of 0.79%. The average food operation wastes 2% of its food purchases. Our waste is 61% (1.21 divided by 2% = 61%) lower than a typical food operation.

  • The cook/chill system and CSK at our Central Food Facility has helped us to further reduce waste by centralizing production.
  • Soups, sauces, pastas, rice and other food items are now made in a central location, ensuring product quality and consistency.
  • Eliminates redundant machinery within each of our Dining Courts/Halls and affords us with a smaller, more energy efficient production footprint that focuses on the customer experience.
  • Bakery renovations have allowed us to not only increase our production of from-scratch items, but to decrease carbon emissions from transportation and provide a higher quality product without the use of preservatives.
    • Currently 98% of all baked goods served at Ohio University are baked on campus from scratch.

Composting Support

Ohio University is home to the largest in-vessel composting system of any other college or university in the nation.

  • All of our campus dining locations utilize compostable napkins, reusable to-go containers and more to help maximize the use of the campus composting vessels and to further ongoing campus sustainability efforts.
  • Visit the Office of Sustainability's waste management page or additional information regarding OHIO's commitment to a greener tomorrow.

Reusable To-Go Container Program

The Reusable To-Go Container program allows customers to pay a one-time fee of $5 in order to use green Reusable To-Go Containers throughout their career at OHIO. Used containers can be dropped off at specific locations to be exchanged for a clean container or a key tag indicating participation in the program.

The Reusable To-Go Container program was originally piloted in Spring 2018 and received overwhelmingly positive survey results including an overall satisfaction rate of 85 percent. Ninety four percent of the 300 student participants suggested the permanent implementation of the program. The decision to implement reusable containers in place of single-use compostable boxes was supported by Student Senate and born out of the Culinary Services Development Committee (CSDC). During our first year of the program, 4,564 reusable containers were sold, eliminating 390,445 containers going to landfill. 

Ongoing Efforts

Culinary Services is always looking for new ways to increase our sustainability. We also value student input!

  • The Culinary Services Development Committee (CSDC) is a student-led group that helps us to evaluate sustainability-related ideas and initiatives.
  • We continually develop new partnerships to offer organically grown and Fair Trade coffee in select dining venues and cafes.
  • All Culinary Services venues utilize soaps and detergents that are biodegradable and safe for the environment.
  • We are incorporating sustainable design elements, renewable materials, new infrastructure, and equipment efficiencies within both existing and future venue renovations.
  • On May 1, 2017, tray-less dining was implemented at all Residential Dining courts to reduce post-consumer waste.

Join CSDC!

We are always looking for energetic students who are interested in discussing/furthering our on-campus sustainability efforts! The Culinary Services Development Committee (CSDC) is a student-led organization dedicated to discussing a wide range of culinary-related topics. Meetings are monthly during the school year.

Let your voice be heard! Contact us at or 740.593.2970 for additional information.