UCI Dining is committed to sustainable practices in our services, food and products. We’re also committed to educating the campus community about sustainability. We proudly support the sustainability goals of the UC Office of the President (UCOP) in reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the sustainable foods we offer, and reducing water usage .We work together to continually develop and implement sustainable solutions through Green Thread, our environmental sustainability platform and we bring innovative and efficient solutions to life. We are passionately focused on reducing the environmental impact within our operations.
To learn more about our sustainability programs and initiatives, you can read below
Here are just a few ways we work to make our campus more environmentally conscious:
One Mile Meals
We are proud to announce the launch of our new One Mile Meals program, UCI’s first on-campus vertical garden! The new garden is in the patio area of The Anteatery and will grow leafy greens, squash, tomatoes, herbs, and more! All of the produce is being used for locations within a one-mile radius, like The Anteatery, and some produce is being donated to the FRESH Basic Needs Hub. Compared to traditional farming, this aeroponic garden uses 90% less water, grows 2-3 times faster, and can grow 10 times the amount of food in the same amount of space.
Reusable Cup Discount
Receive a discount when you use a reusable cup for fountain beverages and coffee in any dining location and help reduce waste. UCI Dining has also partnered with The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF), UCI Facilities Management, and UCI Housing to offer several hydration stations throughout campus. Use the filtered water stations to stay refreshed and limit your carbon footprint.
Wiping Out Waste
Twice a quarter we collect, weigh and record solid food waste thrown out by students. The purpose behind this is to educate students about the environmental impact of food waste and to empower the students about how they can alter the footprint they leave behind. Through this activity students see how much food is wasted in a single meal period. Green Captains are present throughout this event to provide students with simple tips to reduce food waste, and to celebrate successes when students come to the bins with no waste.
On average, each student wastes around 1.6 ounces per meal, which is equivalent to approximately 35,000 meals wasted per year. The Anteatery currently holds the campus record of having the lowest waste of only 0.5 ounces of food wasted per person achieved in January of 2019. Wiping Out Waste is held during week 2 and week 9 of each quarter and takes place at both dining halls.
Free Coffee Grounds Program
On a first come, first-serve basis, you can go to Zot N Go and pick up a package of coffee grounds at no charge. The coffee grounds are dried and packaged in single serving portions for your convenience. The bags used to hold the grounds are recycled; we use the bags that some coffee grounds are originally packaged in.
In addition to gardening, coffee grounds can be used for DIY projects such as face masks, candles, soaps, and air fresheners. On each package, you’ll find tips and recipes to help you get started.
If you would like a large package of coffee grounds for your garden or event, please fill out this form.
Reusable To-Go Program
Getting your meal to go from The Anteatery or Brandywine? Take part in our Reusable To-Go Container and Cup program.
Here's how it works:
Your To-Go Meal Kits include:
1 Reusable Clamshell
1 Reusable Cup & Lid
1 Set of Utensils (Fork, Knife & Spoon)
Please make sure to bring all your meal kit items to the dining hall each time you visit.
Used/soiled meal kits will be exchanged for a clean and sanitized set upon each entry into the dining hall.
*Note: To-Go meal kits will be in use as long as the campus remains in a to-go only status. If and when we are allowed to reopen for inside dining, you will be able to return the container, cup and utensils for a clean set, or you can request a Rain Check Card to be used at a later time so you no longer have to carry or store the meal kits.
Your first set of to-go meal kits are supplied free of charge. Should any portion of your meal kit become lost or damaged, there will be a $5.00 replacement charge for each of the 3 items.
UCI Dining sources food from many local farmers, growers, and distributors. Our partners change throughout the year depending on seasonality and availability. Check our map below to see what farms we purchased from!
- Fresh Origins (San Marcos, CA)
- Polito Family Farms (Valley Center, CA)
- Henry Avocado (Escondido, CA)
- Calco Farms (Arcadia, CA)
- Alta Dena (La Puente, CA)
- Boskovich Farms (Oxnard, CA)
- Muranaka Farms (Los Angeles, CA)
- JJ's Lone Daughter Ranch (Redlands, CA)
- Babe Farms (Santa Maria, CA)
- Bee Sweet Citrus (Fowler, CA)
Fair Trade University
As of May 4, 2018, UCI became a Fair Trade University! Fair Trade is an economic system that ensures consumers the products they buy were grown, harvested, crafted, and traded in ways that improve lives and protect the environment. Fair Trade Campaigns officially recognizes schools in the US committed to educating students about the issues of Fair Trade and sourcing Fair Trade products, like coffee, tea, and bananas in the cafeteria, offices and at events. Throughout the 2017-2018 academic year, UCI Dining held seven educational events, added Fair Trade products to thirteen of its locations, and collaborated with The Hill to ensure Fair Trade options were available through the student bookstore. In May 2018, UC Irvine signed a resolution, which was supported by the Associate Chancellor of Sustainability, Wendell Brase. Visit Fair Trade Campaign’s website to learn more about this initiative!
UCI Dining partners with the campus to recycle commingled, cardboard, and food waste from all dining locations across campus. We are committed to minimizing our environmental footprint. Look for signs in our dining locations for more information on where to put your recyclable material!
The Anteatery, Brandywine, Zot N Go, P.O.D. Convenience Stores, and the Bren Events Center, including concessions, are all Zero Waste facilities that compost and recycle at least 90% of their materials! All service-ware is reusable in the dining commons, including cups, plates, and utensils. Additionally, recycling bins are available at all retail dining locations to dispose of your recyclable items, such as glass and plastic bottles. These efforts ensure that we minimize our footprint on the environment while also maximizing global sustainability.
We also practice post-consumer waste diversion at Phoenix Food Court, West Food Court, East Food Court, and BC's Cavern Food Court. Beginning in Fall 2018, we introduced new recycling bins in West and East Food Court (pictured above). In traditional recycling bins, liquids and ice can contaminate paper products and render them non-recyclable. These new bins allow guests to pour their liquids and ice down the first compartment and disposing their cup, lid, and other clean plastics and paper in the other. If you're ever unsure where your waste goes when you dine at any of these locations, just look for our helpful signs. All the items on these signs come directly from the respective food court to make it easier for you to see what goes where and help contribute to the goal of reaching Zero Waste.
Dining proudly serves 100% cage-free eggs. Organic eggs are produced from free-range hens with no hormone or antibiotic treatment, as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). These hens are allowed to roam freely outside a poultry barn, rather than housed in battery cages. The Humane Society of the United States supports free-range treatment of hens as it allows them to partake in natural activities, such as scratching and dust bathing as needed. In addition, organic egg farming contributes to sustainable dining practices by producing less environmental pollution than battery-cage farming.
Be a Planteater
Sustainable Take-Out Containers
Did you know UCI Dining has been trayless since 2008? By dining trayless, you have helped positively impact the environment by minimizing food waste, conserving energy and water as well as reducing the amount of cleaning chemicals entering the waste stream.
Anteater Water Footprints
At both of our Zero Waste Dining Halls we have implemented the Anteater Water Footprints. At each station a red, yellow or green Anteater Paw is placed next to every menu item to showcase the water usage impact. By using the stoplight color scheme it allows students to easily see which item have the largest impact. To explain what each color represents, we have a poster at each dining hall to show how much water it takes to produce one pound of food. We developed this tool to educate students on what items have the highest possible food waste as well as help them be conscious of their food decisions.