Sustainability

We are passionately focused on reducing the environmental impact of our operations, and work to continually develop and implement sustainable solutions. Through Green Thread, our sustainability platform, we bring innovative and efficient solutions to the table.

Here are a few ways we work to make our campus more environmentally conscious:

 

Managing Sustainability

Environmental sustainability is a fundamental part of our mission, guiding how we operate on all levels. Gator Dining is committed to reducing our environmental footprint by implementing practices that enrich and support the planet while providing nourishing, diverse food to the Gator Nation.  Gator Dining has a full-time dedicated Sustainability Manager that works on initiatives to reduce the environmental footprint of dining at the University of Florida.

 

What is Green Thread?

Green Thread is our environmental sustainability platform, where we bring innovation and creativity to the table to foster efficient solutions. We are passionately focused on reducing the environmental impact of our operations and are continuously improving our practices.

We place an emphasis on responsible and local purchasing, waste minimization, energy efficient operations, plant-forward menu options, and innovative guest experiences centered around sustainability.

 

Responsible Sourcing

We source local, seasonal, and sustainably raised and grown food whenever possible. Gator Dining is committed to cultivating relationships with growers and producers that are local to UF, allowing us to provide fresh and nutritious food for our guests while supporting a resilient local food economy. As of Spring 2021, 30% of the food in our residential dining halls is sourced locally or sustainably produced, and we are in partnership with over 35 local vendors. Visit Local Vendors to view and learn more about the local vendors that Gator Dining is proud to support and serve in our dining halls.

 

Fresh From Florida

Gator Dining prioritizes purchasing from Florida farmers, producers, and businesses across the state. Look for the Fresh from Florida stickers around the dining halls to find meals made with Florida grown ingredients and come to either dining hall on Fridays to experience Fresh from Florida Fridays!

 

Waste Minimization

We work to reduce landfill waste at every level of our operations. Both of our dining halls have been trayless since 2008, and we offer smaller portions to reduce food waste, although our guests are always welcomed to have seconds (or thirds!).

Our goal is to maximize recycling and composting initiatives on campus. Gator Dining is 100% Styrofoam free and plastic bag free, and all dining locations use compostable to-go containers, lids, straws, bags, and cups. We implement pre- and post- consumer composting and are partnered with the UF Field & Fork Gardens and UF Organic Garden to compost coffee grounds. We also recycle all paper, plastic, metal, and wood at our locations.

Gators Beat Waste

Gator Dining partnered with the University of Florida Business Services, Business Affairs, Office of Sustainability, Reitz Union, and PepsiCo to launch the customer-facing waste station in the Reitz Union Food Court. This station is the first of its kind and the only post-consumer compost bin in the Reitz Union.

 

Efficient Operations

We renovated our buildings and updated kitchen appliances to conserve natural resources and ensure efficient operations. Below are practices that we implemented to improve water efficiency, reduce emissions, conserve energy, and improve indoor environmental quality in dining areas.

  • Achieved a LEED Gold certification for both dining halls in 2014.
  • Purchased a Hobart FT1000e steam dish machine for Gator Corner Dining Center to reduce water and energy consumption of dishwashing
  • Lighting and controls upgrades at both dining halls, including the conversion to LED lights

 

Plant-Forward

We understand the complex effects of agriculture and food production on the environment and people, which is why we are expanding our plant-forward and vegan menu options at our locations. Both residential dining halls have a designated vegan station, and many of our on-campus retail chains have introduced vegan and vegetarian items to their menus. At the dining halls, our rotating menu options include plant-forward meals which are designed with more plant-based proteins and vegetables and smaller quantities of animal products.

 

Fostering Innovation

At Gator Dining, we take pride in providing a unique experience for our guests. Below are a few of our offerings and initiatives designed to make your on-campus dining experience an unforgettable one.

Local Restaurant Row

Local Restaurant Row features rotating local establishments in the Reitz Union Food Court. Our goal is to create opportunities for local restaurants to serve the UF community and provide diversity of on-campus dining options for our guests.

Campus and Community Collaboration

At Gator Dining, we understand the importance of extending our resources and fostering connections with organizations across the university and Gainesville communities. We work with The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) to bring educational components and unique pop-ups to the dining halls. We also play an active role in the Food Systems Coalition of Greater Gainesville, a grassroots coalition of diverse stakeholders working together to increase food accessibility and drive equitable opportunities for economic development in the Gainesville area.

Monthly Farmers Markets

In January 2021, Gator Dining launched a monthly farmer’s market in an effort to increase access to healthy, fresh produce on campus. We source produce from our local vendors and offer it to students at $1 per pound. Stay up-to-date with us on social media for the dates, times and locations of our upcoming markets!

Hydroponic Towers

Gator Dining has partnered with Field and Fork Campus Food Program and LA Urban Farms to bring hydroponic garden towers into both dining halls. These towers offer a hands-on learning experience for the student interns that manage them while adding beauty to the built environment. The food grown in the towers is donated to the on-campus food pantry.

Learn more: http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/news/2019/06/19/ufs-field-fork-program-gator-dining-services-introduce-aeroponic-tower-gardens-to-student-learning-experience/