A Sustainable State
NC State has a long history of impacting the agricultural industry in North Carolina. As a land-grant university that has played a key role in revolutionizing the state’s farming practices, NC State and its alums continue to define, refine and influence our agricultural practices 125 years later.
NC State Dining is proud to be a contributing partner in the university’s overall sustainability goal to conserve energy, use resources wisely and reduce our carbon footprint. With over 35 campus locations, we’re taking a lead role in opening avenues for North Carolina-based growers, producers and manufacturers to help meet that need by providing fresh, healthy and local ingredients.
NC State Dining began a composting initiative at all dining halls in August 2010 and at One Earth in Talley Student Union in 2014. The initiative became a reality when an audit by Waste Reduction and Recycling (WRR) found that 70 percent of waste generated by Fountain Dining Hall was compostable. This led Fountain Dining Hall to add a biodigester diverting 55% of the compostable waste – which reduces trips by waste and recycling. In October 2016, we installed paper towel composting bins in the dining hall restrooms to expand these efforts. The composting initiative has assisted with NC State University’s overall sustainability goal to decrease waste from landfills.
Our dining hall take-out program, Pack&Go, features a reusable, recyclable take-out container. The dining hall take-out program has diverted over 138,213 styrofoam to-go containers from March 2009 to February 2016 by providing reusable, recyclable containers for guests to utilize.
Recycled Cooking Oil
NC State Dining works with Green Circle NC to collect and upcycle oil waste (~775 gallons per month). The organic waste is converted into biodiesel fuel and composting soil. Not only is the oil being put to good use, but it also is collected at no cost to us, saving thousands of dollars each year.
While drought conditions in early 2008 prompted us to conserve water by removing trays from our three dining halls, we then decided to make the change permanent. With this change we conserve an average of 51,000 gallons of water weekly. Food waste and energy usage are down, too. By going trayless, we’ve saved more than 21 million gallons of water. That’s enough to fill over 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools!
Bring Your Own Bag
Through a partnership with the Office of Sustainability, NC State Dining began reducing plastic waste by eliminating single-use plastic bags at the Atrium Food Court and C-Stores on campus. Reusable bags are now available for purchase at these locations, diverting over 95,000 plastic bags from the landfill since implementation. NC State Dining has also contributed to the Sustainable Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) gold rating for the university’s overall sustainability performance.
Waste Reduction and Recycling
We have implemented several waste reduction and recycling efforts throughout each of our dining locations, including:
- Reusable dinnerware at the dining halls instead of disposables;
- Cardboard and paper recycling at all locations;
- Plastic bottle and aluminum can recycling in most locations;
- HVAC upgrade at Fountain Dining Hall to improve energy efficiency;
- Use of electronic media to reduce paper use; and
- Operating the Cbord Food Management System, a sophisticated computerized food production system. It is designed to drastically reduce waste through “just in time” purchasing methods and eliminate food waste through overproduction.
Agroecology Education Farm
NC State’s Agroecology Education Farm provides hands-on education regarding sustainable agriculture to students, staff, faculty and the community. One of the Agroecology Farm’s main goals is to produce fresh and healthy food items to be served at on-campus dining locations, extending sustainable agriculture education back to campus. In 2016, the six-acre site produced 3,900 pounds of crops for the dining program. We also provide funding for a hoop house at the farm, which extends the growing season and provides nearly year-round vegetable production.
Hoop House Farm Project
My Roots Program
The nationally recognized “My Roots are at NC State” program connects NC State Dining with North Carolina growers, manufacturers, processors and producers to increase our ability to purchase locally and highlight the wealth of products grown and produced in our state. It also gives us an opportunity to share stories of NC State alumni working for these companies and how their work positively impacts our efforts to provide the best food possible for our students, faculty and staff.
NC State Dining is committed to purchasing local foods whenever possible to support North Carolina agriculture and minimize the resources required to bring products to campus. We track our local purchasing and work to maximize partnerships with companies in our state. We highlight our suppliers at the entrance of campus dining halls, showing the companies we buy from and their locations relative to campus.
We have created several partnerships with student organizations and professors across campus, including the NC State Sustainability Office, EcoVillage, Our Table and the NC State Aquaculture Program, to assist and align our sustainability goals.
The Culinary Horticulture Club at NC State is a student-led group focused on bringing together students and community members who have a deep interest in the history, sociology, science, and culinary attributes of horticultural crops. Dining partners with them to present several “Our Table” seminars to campus that provide a horticultural background and tasting of the featured crop.
As our local connection to what is happening on the local food scene, Got to be NC helps us identify groups and companies that produce, manufacture, grow and package products in North Carolina. Got to be NC also connects our program with local partners interested in introducing NC products to campus.
NC State’s Agroecology Education Farm provides hands-on education regarding sustainable agriculture to students, staff, faculty and the community.
Supported by the university’s Sustainability Office, the NC State Stewards are sustainability student leaders promoting sustainable practices among their peers and the community. NC State Dining works with the Stewards to reduce plastic bag and cup use, by promoting our Bring Your Own Bag and One Less Cup campaigns.
NC State Dining works with North Carolina Choices, a group that promotes local products, to feature pasture-raised pork sausage and ham at the dining halls.
The NC 10% Campaign is a local initiative to encourage consumers to spend 10% of their food dollars on foods from North Carolina-based farmers and producers. NC State Dining utilizes them as a resource to connect us with food growers and producers in NC, including sourcing menu items for our annual All Carolinas and Farm Feast meals.
The Recirculating Farms Club at NC State aims to promote recirculating farming technology, including aquaculture, hydroponics, and aquaponics. NC State Dining partners with the student organization to grow hydroponic lettuce for use in select dining locations across campus.
US Foods is an excellent resource in identifying local food on a scale that can be used in our dining units across campus. They continue to work with North Carolina farmers and producers to increase the diversity and amount of local products they carry.