How We Intentionally Reduce Waste

Menu Design

Our menus are intentionally designed by our team to be mindful of healthy, sustainable and delicious food choices. We do this by creating residential and retail dining menus in conjunction with the principles of Menus of Change and composed by our team with the intentional sharing of ingredients across menu selections.

Trayless Dining
Initiative sponsored by SGA & RSA

Residential dining locations International Village, Levine Marketplace, and Food Hall at Stetson West have been trayless since 2017. Signage at the dish returns highlights sustainability facts related to trayless dining.

Bagless at Outtakes
Initiative sponsored by SGA and HEAT

In an effort to decrease our plastic waste contributions, Outtakes no longer offers single-use plastic bags to guests. Since 2017 guests are able to bring their own bag or purchase a reusable bag.

Refillable Water Bottles & Reusable Bags

Be Green refillable water bottles are sold at the Market to promote the use of filtered water fill-up stations located across campus. Be Green to-go bags are also sold at the Market and Outtakes to be used at all retail locations on campus.


Swipe2Care is a combined initiative from Student Government Association, Dining Services, and Student Affairs to provide a platform for students to donate their meal swipes to other students. The program is designed to allow students to seamlessly contribute meals from their meal plan while providing a confidential and efficient method for students–who may be having difficulty–to request their next meal.

Community Donations

Our outreach initiatives support multiple local and non-profit organizations including Women’s Lunch Place. Throughout the year we donate leftovers from events and prepared meals to Women’s Lunch Place, a day shelter serving homeless women and children in the greater Boston area.

Compostable Straws

We are doing our part to reduce campus plastic waste that goes to landfills by removing straws from our residential dining locations during the spring 2018 semester. We have also worked with our retail partners to transition from plastic-based straws to compostable versions in retail dining locations across campus.

Imperfectly Delicious Produce

Imperfectly Delicious Produce (IDP) is a program that utilizes fruits and vegetables that have slight cosmetic or quality imperfections. This produce is typically left un-harvested in the field or discarded from retail sale but is perfectly delicious for cooking. Cosmetically perfect produce is not essential for food service operations as our chefs slice and dice the produce so flavor and quality are most important.
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“Root to Tip” Cooking

Our cooks and chefs use as much of the vegetable as possible – including the peel and the tops. We leave the peel on many of the vegetables for added flavor and nutrition. The use of the entire vegetable allows us to create some surprise menu items, such as kale stem pesto.

Batch Cooking

We batch cook in our facilities in order to produce high quality food and reduce waste. Batch Cooking is cooking in smaller, more frequent quantities as close to service as possible.

Campus Recycling

Since September 2010, all #10 food cans (~100 oz.) used in our kitchens are washed, crushed, and picked up for recycling. Each dining location has its own corrugated cardboard compactor and approach 100% for cardboard recycling. Recycle bins are located at all retail dining locations and collected by the University for campus-wide recycling.

Lifecycle Renewables

Local company Lifecycle Renewables converts used vegetable oil from our retail and residential dining locations into a biomass fuel. This year's contributions were used as a renewable heating oil replacement in schools and hospitals in southern New England. The biomass fuel represents an 80%+ reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to traditional heating oil.

Organic Composting

Northeastern Dining has been partnered with Herb’s Organic Food Disposal, a local organic waste recycling company, for eleven years. Kitchen and plate food waste is collected at campus dining facilities in specially labeled compost bins. Herb’s Disposal transports the organic food waste to an approved Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection active composting site.

Educate Your Palate 2018: Rethink Zero

Educate Your Palate is our end-of-year signature event, which expands the palates and foodie knowledge of students via a unique culinary adventure. In 2018 the theme was “Rethink Zero” and was driven by a conscious effort from our team to be mindful of our contributions to reduce waste—in all its forms.

Our menu challenged students to step outside their culinary comfort zones and was met with rave reviews. The menu was guided by Menus of Change principles and thoughtfully composed by our team with the intentional sharing of resources across menu selections. Each station featured a distinctive interpretation of multiple Menus of Change principles, which were prominently displayed by each menu item.

We purposefully focused on whole, minimally processed foods by incorporating nose-to-tail and root-to-tip methodologies to creatively serve underutilized cuts of meat and vegetable parts typically discarded. For example, juice from the chickpeas used to create two types of hummus was whipped into impossibly light aquafaba merengues topped with carrot peel dust. Additionally, we reduced sugary beverages by serving a pineapple lemon refresher, made from pineapple cores and infused with lemon. This innovative drink was thoroughly enjoyed by our students. 

For more delectable bites into Educate Your Palate 2018, please visit: