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Earth Day at Culinary Services is every day

Ohio University Culinary Services celebrates Earth Day every day!

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

With approximately 3.5 million meals being served by each venue yearly, Culinary Services attempts to purchase locally as often as possible. All food purchased for the University must be traceable to the farmer, and all producers or handlers of food products must have Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plans in place

Culinary Services collaborates 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 portions, which has greatly reduced food waste. Smaller plates and bowls have also been introduced to reduce post-consumer food waste through more controlled portion sizes.

Additionally, the Reusable To-Go Container program allows customers to pay a one-time fee of $5 to use reusable containers throughout their careers at OHIO. 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. The program was initially piloted in 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. During the program’s first year, 4,564 reusable containers were sold, eliminating 390,445 containers going to landfill.

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

Almost all food is made and produced in the Culinary Support Kitchen, Vegetable Preparation, or Bakery at Central Food Facility. 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, with Culinary Services waste amount 61% lower than a typical food operation.

Culinary Services focuses their goals around the slogan “Eat local. Eat seasonal.” Eating locally and seasonally not only supports our region, but lowers the carbon footprint. When eating locally, money goes directly to farmers, creating economic growth in the region and allowing them to be able to grow more food. Eating seasonally means that the food travels a short distance to get to your plate and is more cost-effective.

Learn more about Culinary Services at

April 21, 2023
Staff reports