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 provide MDining with fruits, vegetables, honey and more.

Fresh Produce

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.

More about Local & Sustainable Foods

Michigan Milk – All the milk, yogurt and soft serve ice cream served in the dining halls comes from local Michigan dairy farms and contains no genetically engineered hormones. Every glass, scoop or cone helps us support Help Michigan farm families!

Local Meat – Most of the meat served at East Quad is supplied by farms less than 250 miles from Ann Arbor. Michigan Dining is actively working to expand this program to other dining centers. Head to East Quad to show your support.

Sustainable Seafood – Michigan Dining partners with Sea To Table, a company that connects chefs with local fishermen from small-scale sustainable wild fisheries. .  Michigan Dining is also 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 cafes, markets and dining halls is organic fair trade and made from beans roasted less than 15 miles from Ann Arbor. 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.

Reducing Waste

Trayless Dining

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 to 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.

More about Reducing Waste

Food Recovery – The student-run Food Recovery Network 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, we donate food we cannot use to Food Gatherers, a food rescue and food bank program serving Washtenaw County.

Composting – 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. 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.

Zero Waste Events – Michigan Dining can help coordinate zero-waste catered events <hot link> to divert waste from the landfill and promote food waste composting, recycling and the use of compostable materials.

Recycling – Our Blue to Go packaging and all of the cups, food trays, napkins, stir sticks and paper products we use in our cafés and markets are recyclable or compostable. Even the cooking oil is picked up and recycled into other useable products including biodiesel fuel and animal feed.

Sustainable Facilities


Twigs at Oxford has become a 2 Star Certified Green Restaurant® by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), a national non-profit organization promoting sustainability in the restaurant industry. More information can be found here.

More about Sustainable Facilities

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 the orange chairs at Central Campus Dining at South Quad were made from recycled Coca-Cola bottles?

You Can Do Something, Too.

Eat vegan or vegetarian!

Go to Sustainable Mondays at East Quad 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.

More about What You Can Do

Recycle. Make sure that cups and food containers find their way to the recycle bin.

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.