At JMU Dining, we consistently strive to become more sustainable and efficient in our everyday operations. Our team consists of a sustainability coordinator and interns. Together, our goals are to increase sustainable food purchasing, to educate and empower the University and local communities, and to reduce our environmental footprint. In addition, we offer expertise and practical solutions to campus partners.
We strive to develop and implement long-term environmental stewardship programs and policies within the areas of sustainable food, responsible procurement, green buildings, energy and water conservation, transportation, and waste stream management. These programs and policies are called Green Thread as they weave throughout the business operations.
JMU Dining Services cares about more than only what you eat - we care about where it’s sourced.
We are a proud partner of the Local Food Hub in Charlottesville, VA who works with local farmers to provide support services, infrastructure and market opportunities - enabling producers to provide locally sourced food to organizations. JMU Dining is then able to provide the JMU campus with local products sourced within 150 miles or the state of Virginia. While the list of farmers and producers rotates throughout the year depending on seasonality and availability, here are the partners we work with through the Local Food Hub:
Hartland Natural Farm
Singing Earth Produce
Virginia Vinegar Works
Blue Ridge Bucha
Planet Earth Diversified
Phantom Hill Farm
Falling Bark Farm
Papa Weaver’s Pork
Walnut Winds Farm
The Rock Barn
We are committed to identifying and implementing a long-term solution for organic waste at JMU.
We currently compost all pre-consumer waste in dining locations, and all pre and post-consumer waste is composted in residential dining halls. In the residential dining locations, food scraps are broken down by a pulper and placed into a composting compactor for pick-up. At our two retail dining locations, Festival and Bistro 1908, consumers are asked to sort their waste into food-only, recycle, and landfill receptacles.
JMU Dining aligns with the University on recycling efforts; we work together on programming for events such as Recycle Week. Currently all dining locations recycle, including appropriate bins in customer facing areas. We recycle plastics 1-7, glass, aluminum, metal, cardboard, toner cartridges, electronics, and paper. In addition to recycling with the University, Dining also recycles 100% of used fryer oil in conjunction with Quest Recycling, who diverts the oil into biodiesel or animal feed.
Waste Reduction through Lean Path:
JMU Dining participates in Lean Path - leveraging cutting-edge technology, powerful data science, and a proven Culinary Team Empowerment Program, to help our organization understand exactly how and why food is being wasted, then take decisive action to achieve real, measurable results. Through Lean Path's automated system, we strive to prevent food waste by understanding where inefficiencies occur and how we can eliminate over-preparing food.
JMU Dining Services follows a similar approach in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Food Recovery Hierarchy, with source reduction being the first step to managing a waste stream. Once all unnecessary waste is eliminated, we determine another purpose or reuse the material. If we can no longer use it, we work with an on-campus student organization, Campus Kitchen, who takes reusable, leftover food that would otherwise be wasted and repurposes it. Student chefs create new meals and they are served to the local Salvation Army. In 2017 Campus Kitchen donated 617 pounds of food. Additionally we participate in a canned food drive, donating to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
Fueled is a collaborative, student initiated comprised of a food truck operated by JMU Dining in conjunction with a cross-disciplinary course offered by James Madison University.
It was designed to promote health, sustainability, and education through outreach activities. Fueled strives to bring locally-sourced foods to JMU, while stimulating businesses in the surrounding community. Cross-disciplinary student teams function within the JMU X-Labs as a University course - working together on innovative projects directly applicable to the business needs of the Fueled food truck and community. The course’s influence on campus and in the surrounding community provides the framework for a model to be shared nationally with other universities.
Creative development and implementation of team concepts focus on key topics including:
- Sustainable agriculture
- Holistic living
- Industrial and environmental design
- Nutrition/health promotion
- Mind-body awareness
- Graphic design
- Campus/K-12 education
Farmers Markets are organized and hosted by dining services, allowing students to use Dining and Flex in addition to cash and credit.
- Our Sustainability Team works with local vendors to encourage awareness and education on the importance of supporting the local economy and food system, while engging with the community.
- Our market is held from Sept. through October in the fall and after Spring Break through the end of the semester in the spring.
JMU Dining Services understands the importance of vegan and vegetarian dining.
All residential, retail and Grab-n-Go locations have vegan and vegetarian options available at breakfast, lunch, and dinner and always contain complete-proteins. Our Grab-n-Go programs - Fresh Takes and York Street Market - are dedicated to healthy and plant-based meals on-the-go and feature items such as vegetarian and vegan sandwiches and wraps. Additionally, we prioritize events at dining locations that continue to educate and provide unique vegetarian and vegan options.
Resusable Container Incentive
JMU Dining Services offers incentives for using reusable beverage containers in place of single-use, disposable cups and bottles.
- Reusable beverage containers are accepted in all dining locations on campus, including Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. As an incentive, a ten cent discount is offered on beverages purchased with a reusable beverage container.
- Additionally, through a partnership with Cupanion, JMU Dining Services has implemented a program that uses a sticker with a bar code and a mobile application to provide rewards for using a reusable beverage container. A Cupanion sticker is available to all meal plan holders to place on their reusable beverage container, and can be picked up at the cash registers at EHall and DHall. Users can scan the barcode on their sticker after each reuse, including purchasing beverages or filling up at water refill stations on campus. Each time the sticker is scanned, a cup of clean water is donated to WaterAid and users accumulate points which can be redeemed on items such as coffee.
Our commitment to JMU is to integrate local and sustainable offerings in the dining facilities.
The Sustainability Team puts on Local Taste Cart events in which we offer potential local menu or retail items for students to test. We seek out third-party certified options, including but not limited to:
MSC Certified Seafood
Cage-Free shell Eggs
100% Grass-fed beef
Fair Trade Certified
Organic products/ produce
Certified American Humane Certified
Madison Garden was first constructed in 2013 in partnership with Facilities Management, JMU Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability.
This student-run garden acts as an educational opportunity for students to work in the garden and engage through hands-on learning. Hannah Smith through the Fueled project-based class revived Madison Garden in 2017 where it is now managed by a student-run, agricultural club called JMGrew in collaboration with the Fueled Food Truck. In 2018, through a grant in collaboration with JMU X-labs, FarmBot was added to Madison Garden
Education & Outreach
The Sustainability Team regularly engages in the local and JMU community in order to further educate individuals.
Educational opportunities are the primary way our team engages with the University to create sustainable change. Through our various events, tablings, tours, collaborations and hands-on activities, we raise awareness and empower students toward a more sustainable lifestyle.
Below is a sampling of outreach and education activities conducted by JMU Dining:
- Tabling and Information Sessions
- Campus Organization Collaboration
- Guided Dining Hall Tours
- Student Outreach
- Curriculum Support
- Indoor Growing Towers
- Theme Meals
- Fueled Course
- Madison Garden
- Health and Wellness Partnership
- Community Support
- Harrisonburg VA Green Committee.
- Cross-Institutional Collaboration
Our commitment to sustainability includes both our food and our facilities. Whenever possible we choose third-party verified options and seek green building certifications, included but not limited to:
- Virginia Green: We are proud participants of the Virginia Green campaign. Virginia Green is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s campaign to promote environmentally-friendly practices in all aspects of Virginia’s tourism industry. Our Sustainability Manager is on the steering committee for all of Harrisonburg and the committee is committed to improving green tourism through community efforts.
- MSC: JMU Dining has maintained the Chain of Custody certification under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) since 2014. This indicates that traceable are identified and recorded and certified products are segregated. This standard is upheld throughout the supply chain from fishery to final sale. JMU serves sustainably-sourced cod and pollock in its dining locations.
- Green Restaurant: East Campus Dining Hall exceeds environmental sustainability criteria in six categories - successfully accomplishing waste minimization, responsible sourcing, and efficient operations in order to gain this recognition
Virginia Sustainable Food Coalition
JMU Dining Services Sustainability Manager is a member of the Virginia Sustainable Food Coalition.
The mission of the Virginia Sustainable Food Coalition is to harness the intellectual, human and economic capital of colleges and universities to foster the emerging local food economy in Virginia. JMU is joined by 4-VA partner universities George Mason University, University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech
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