What Michigan Dining is Doing
We’re always looking for new and better ways to offer fresh local foods while also supporting sustainable dining practices. The summary below provides a quick snapshot. To learn more, check out Planet Blue or download our Sustainability Guide.
Local & Sustainable Foods
More than 30 Michigan farmers and suppliers, including the UM Campus Farm, provide MDining with fruits, vegetables, honey and more. As of 2017, Michigan Dining (including dining halls, retail locations, and Michigan Catering) purchased 17.73% of its food from local or sustainable sources, nearing the University’s 20% goal targeted for 2025.
Our very short Michigan growing season is a challenge to us when it comes to local produce, but we use as much as we can in season. Michigan Dining — in collaboration with Central Student Government, Office of Campus Sustainability, and MHealthy — hosts several M Farmers Market events in September and October. For more information visit the M Farmers Market page on the Planet Blue website.
Additionally, there are weekly M Farmers Market produce stands in selected locations across campus from May through the summer. For details visit the M Healthy website.
Michigan Dairy – All the milk, yogurt and soft-serve ice cream served in the dining halls comes from Prairie Farms, a dairy cooperative made up of local Michigan dairy farms and contains no genetically engineered hormones. Every glass, scoop or cone helps us support Michigan farm families!
Sustainable Seafood – Michigan Dining is the first Big Ten university to gain Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Chain of Custody certification. MSC is a global, non-profit organization that promotes sustainable fisheries and responsible fishing practices worldwide. Look for the MSC logo when choosing entrees in the dining centers.
Organic Fair Trade Coffee – Every drop of coffee served in our dining halls and JavaBlu cafes is organic fair trade and made from beans roasted less than 15 miles from Ann Arbor by Royale Roasters. Stop at your favorite Michigan Dining café and try one of our single origin farmer direct coffees and help us help small family farmers.
Local Organic Tea – We carry Light of Day Organic Teas, grown just outside Traverse City on the company’s certified Demeter Biodynamic farm, in all of our JavaBlue cafes.
Nothing goes to waste in the MDining kitchens. Every scrap of pre-consumer waste (carrot tops, onion skins, potato peelings, etc) is sent to the Ann Arbor Compost Center operated by WeCare Organics where it’s turned into compost, mulch, and topsoil. All dining halls also post-consumer compost, as well. At East Quad, post-consumer waste is processed through a pulper to extract the water from the food. This process reduces the volume of food waste making it possible to transport it to the Compost Center.
In retail locations, compost bins are available for customers to responsibly dispose of cups, containers, and other Michigan Dining packaging (which is almost entirely compostable).
In 2016 (the most updated complete fiscal year), Michigan Dining composted 862,912.15 pounds of waste!
We’ve eliminated trays in every dining hall. Trayless dining helps you choose your meals more carefully which means less waste.
Just-Right Servings – Small plates or “tapas” portions in our dining halls let you try a little of everything without having to toss a lot of food in the landfill. If you know you love it, ask for a larger portion. Or come back for more. Made-to-order foods such as omelets, stir-fries, sandwiches and more, let you choose exactly what you want so nothing goes to waste.
Food Recovery – The student-run Food Recovery Network (FRN) has partnered with Michigan Dining to collect surplus perishable food that would otherwise go to waste and donate it to people in need. To date, FRN has recovered nearly 11,000 tons of food. Contact the FRN to get involved.
At the end of each term, MDining donates food we cannot use to Food Gatherers, a food rescue and food bank program serving Washtenaw County.
Zero Waste Events – Michigan Dining can help coordinate zero-waste catered events to divert waste from the landfill and promote food waste composting, recycling and the use of compostable materials.
Recycling – Cooking oil is picked up and recycled into other usable products including biodiesel fuel and animal feed.
Campus Leaders – Michigan Dining is the first department on the Ann Arbor campus to earn Platinum Workplace Certification, the highest level attainable. The certification program is administered by the University of Michigan Office of Campus Sustainability. More information can be found here.
Green Renovations – All newly constructed and recently renovated dining halls were built using energy-saving appliances and heating/cooling systems, recycled finishes and furniture. For example, did you know the orange chairs at South Quad were made from recycled Coca-Cola bottles?
You Can Do Something, Too
Eat vegan or vegetarian!
Go to Sustainable Mondays (every Monday!) or choose a vegan or vegetarian option in any dining hall or café, whether it’s once a week, or once in a while!
Kick the plastic bottle habit.
Use the water refill stations around campus to fill your Planet Blue water bottle.
Eat local foods. Look for foods that are from local sources. Signage in Michigan Dining halls (and many grocery stores/markets) will help you make these decisions.
Recycle. Make sure that cups and food containers find their way to the recycle bin.
Compost. Make sure that compostable packaging and food waste goes in the compost bin and any questionable waste goes in the landfill bin. Cross-contamination can taint compost bins very easily!
Reduce your food waste. Customize your dining hall meals, and if you’d like some more food, just ask! Take what you’ll eat and eat what you take.
Get involved. Join a sustainability student organization or get involved however you can. Even small actions can make a big difference!