SUSTAINABILITY | Local Vendors | Sustainable Food |
Reusable To Go Containers | Get Involved

Gator Dining Services, the university’s official dining services provider, has made
strides towards ensuring a more sustainable dining operation on our campus. From
the purchasing of local produce, to fostering more partnerships with local businesses,
to evaluating ways to cut down on energy and water usage, campus dining at the University of Florida is becoming greener everyday.
Check out some of our sustainability efforts below.

Waste Reduction

Student Testimonial: “I have to say how proud I am at the initiatives that you took
for Earth Day. Not only the trays being taken away, but also the education was just
amazing. Everyone seemed to do just fine without trays and it can help save food
waste and water. That makes me proud to go to the University of Florida.” – Alex
Klein, UF Student

1. Implemented trayless dining at Fresh Food Company and Gator Corner
Dining Center

A) By removing the trays from our dining halls, in one year we will prevent 60,000 lbs. of
uneaten food from being thrown away and 470,000 gallons of water from being used. Did you know that between 3-5 oz of editable food is wasted per person in UF’s residential dining halls everyday?  * Based on waste audits from 2013 by GDS Sustainability manager, UF and the UF Zero Waste Coordinator.
2. Gator Dining reusable cup and mug program

B) Gator Dining Services offers a discount of $0.25 for using a reusable mug and offers a $0.99 discount for your fountain beverage refills using your GDS branded reusable cup. Anyone can purchase the GDS branded reusable cup at any of our dining locations on campus.
3. Compostable to-go containers, bowls, plates & cups are available at all locations as well as GDS being 100% Styrofoam free

C) These products are made from renewable resources instead of petroleum-based plastics or Styrofoam. These products are made from renewable resources instead of petroleum-based plastics or Styrofoam. By eliminating Styrofoam packaging, GDS has approximately diverted 1.2 million units of foam products from landfills.

4. Reusable to-go container program at campus dining halls

D) The reusable to go program diverts approximately 278,000 disposable containers. For More Information: Click Here!
5. Coffee grounds and lemon rind composting
E) GDS has partnered with UF Student Organic Gardens cooperative and UF Ecology Garden to compost coffee grounds from Starbucks and Einsteins Bagel Bros and lemon rinds from Chick-fil-A.
6. A robust, comprehensive food waste tracking system.

F) Enables informed and sensitized information for operational management.
7. Robust recycling program
G) GDS recycles all cardboard, paper, plastic, aluminum, tin, glass, pasteboard, and cartons in our back of the house facilities. GDS approximately recycles 154 tons of coming led materials (plastic, glass aluminum) and 215 tons of cardboard and paper each year. GDS recycles 100% of our used cooking oil with Quest Resource Management. Quest transitively sells the oil to render into biodiesel.
8. Partnership with UF Office of Sustainability and Waste Cooperation of America
H) A collaborative relationship to disseminate  tangible sustainable outcomes for dining services and UF alike.

Energy & Water

9. Energy and Water Conservation employee trainings
I)  All hourly and salaried employees receive energy + water conservation on board trainings. In addition, low flow water fixtures and advanced LED lighting technology enables GDS to minimize our built environmental impact.
10. Energy Star® procurement policy in place for all new dining
& office appliance purchases
J) Energy Star® products meet strict energy efficiency
guidelines set by the EPA and US Department of Energy.  In addition, low flow water fixtures and advanced LED lighting technology enables GDS to minimize our built environmental impact.
11. Energy and water conservation program in place campus-wide
K) Employee facing signage sensitizes employees to action over inaction. In addition, monthly utility analysis and an enhanced commission plan of our facilities analysis are conducted to understand usage, and to implement new, innovative solutions.


Responsible Procurement

12. Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance & USDA Certified Organic coffees offered campus-wide
L) Starbucks, Java City & Sweetwater Organic Coffee Roasters all offer sustainable coffee choices. With a local Gainesville based roaster, Sweet Water can be found in GDS’s residential dining facilities.
13. GDS is plastic bag and Styrofoam free in all campus dining locations.
M) GDS sources compostable and recyclable catering to-go boxes that are unbleached and printed with soy based inks. By elimination Styrofoam, we have diverted approximately 1.2 million units of foam products from landfill. Did you know … it is estimated that the world consumes 1 million plastic bags per minute?
14. Local/regional produce sourced for two dining halls
N) Purchasing local produce has many benefits including supporting the local economy, minimizing “food miles” by transitively reducing fossil fuel usage and anthropogenic pollution ensuring a fresher product and eating in conjunction with our local seasons. Just look for the “locally grown” tags in our residential dining facilities to identify these items. Did you know…. Most produce travels an average of 1,500 miles before being sold?
15. Organic, natural and holistic grocery items found in GDS convenience stores
O) Visit our convenience stores for a variety of healthy choices. Look for the natural, organic, vegan and gluten free options.
16. Sustainable cleaning supplies within operations
P) These Green Seal certified products protect the health of our workers, customers, & the environment.

Education, Engagement, Health and Nutrition

17. Sustainability Training and Onboarding

Q) All of our hourly and salaried employees go through training on a variety of sustainability and environmental stewardship topics including but not limited to : recycling, responsible purchasing, sustainable food, transportation, and energy and water conservation. Our goal is to reflect on ways to ingrain transparency, responsibility and sustainability among all GDS employees.

18. Participant in RecycleMania
R) a nationwide college recycling competition

19. Monthly Sustainability events at on campus dining centers
20. Participate in Inter-Residence Hall Association's Annual Eco-Challenge
T) January is water eco-challenge and February is the electricity eco-challenge event.
21. Screens at campus dining locations display weekly Meatless Monday options
and list of available local produce

22. The association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and sustainability tracking, assessment and rating system. (STARS) U. GDS and UF actively tracks, monitors and reports metrics of sustainability in higher education.

23. Healthy 4 Life ™
V) Aramark’s and GDS “comprehensive + integrated approach to health and wellness that features healthy food choices, nutrition education (look out for our food nutrition labels and wellness information). GDS also has a full time registered dietitian to consult and answer any questions, comments or concerns you may have.

24. Vegan and vegetarian friendly
W) All residential dining locations have designated vegan stations, as well as an extensive selection of goods at our convenience stores.

Social Equity


25. Responsible vehicle procurement programX) GDS strives to minimize our impact by purchasing the best, most efficient transportation fleet options. Analysis is conducted to optimize employee driving style and fuel efficiency.
expand title=”26.GDS offers a Bicycle Benefits program”]Y) Customers who participate in the program receive nominal discounts to our dining hall facilities. We support sustainable mobility in all shapes and forms.[/expand}]

Additional Info

Alligator – Greening Dining Article  The Independent Florida
Alligator (January 2008)

Office of Sustainability E-Newsletter  (January 2008)

Reusable Mug Article  Gainesville Sun (February 2008)

College Services Magazine (PDF format)  (April 2008)

Trayless Dining  - USA Today (July 2008)

Trayless Dining  - The Independent Florida Alligator (July 2008)

“Erase the Waste” Campaign  - Gainesville Sun (October 2008)

“Erase the Waste” Campaign - (October 2008)

“Erase the Waste” Campaign  -The Independent Florida Alligator
(October 2008)

Trayless Dining  - Gainesville Sun (October 2008)

Reusable To Go Program  (January 2009)

Gator Dining Green Team (January 2010)

Campus Dining Locations adopt Meatless Monday  -The Independent
Florida Alligator (November 2010)

Foam packaging removed from campus dining program  -The Independent
Florida Alligator (December 2011)

Gators Go Foam Free  - On-Campus Hospitality Magazine (March

BURGERevolution sustainable dining party  - The Independent
Florida Alligator (March 2012)

Students Plan Herbs for Use in Campus Dining Centers  - The
Independent Florida Alligator (September 2012)

The Alligator, “PETA bring new vegan options to campus POD Markets” Oct 2 , 2014 volume 109, issue 28




Fresh Food Challenge – April 2007, Video (plug-in required)

Local Foods Cook-Off – Earth Day 2008, Video