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.

Executive Order 77


Executive Order 77 was signed by Governor Ralph Northam in March of 2021. This order bans the use, sale, or distribution of single-use plastics on university campuses in Virginia. This means that items like plastic cups, lids, straws, utensils, thank-you bags, water bottles, and food containers must be eliminated. These are made from plastic that never truly break down and can be extremely harmful to the environment.

In partnership with James Madison University, we are eliminating many items entirely or switching them to compostable or reusable options. These might be a paper or a plastic-type material. Although these look like regular plastic, they are made from plants! This special plastic, called PLA, can be composted along with food and are more environmentally friendly. These changes will all be happening before the beginning of the academic year.

The executive order also tells us we must eliminate all other single-use plastics that can't be recycled over the next 4 years. We will be eliminating and substituting many other items as we move along. You will see these changes happen periodically over the next few years. These are necessary changes for our future and the future of our planet!

Local Purchasing


JMU Dining Services cares about more than only what you eat - we care about where it’s sourced.

Local Purchasing

We are a proud partner of the Local Food Hub in Charlottesville, VA and Produce Source Partners in Richmond, 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 some of the partners we work with:

  • Saunders Brothers
  • Morris Orchard
  • Caromont Farm
  • Mountain View Farm
  • Seven Hills Food
  • Virginia Vinegar Works
  • Shenandoah Valley Organic
  • Carpe Donut
  • Blue Ridge Bucha
  • Twin Oaks Tofu
  • Woodson’s Mill
  • Falling Bark Farm
  • Mr. J’s Bagels
  • NoBull Burger
  • Papa Weaver’s Pork
  • Walnut Winds Farm
  • Schuyler Greens
  • Ula Tortilla



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.



JMU Dining aligns with the University on recycling efforts. 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 Enable:
JMU Dining participates with Enable and their powerful application to help our organization understand exactly how and why food is being wasted and then take decisive action to achieve real, measurable results. Through Enable’s automated system, we strive to prevent food waste by understanding where inefficiencies occur and how we can eliminate over-preparing food.

Food Donation


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, Food Recovery Network, who takes reusable, leftover food that would otherwise be wasted and re purposes it. The students repackage the food and deliver it to Harrisonburg Second Home, a before and after school program for children K-5, or the JMU Graduate Student Center. In the 2018-2019 school year we donated 1800 pounds of food. In the 2019 fall semester we donated over 1100 pounds of food, all going directly to the Food Recovery Network.

Farmer's Markets


JMU Dining hosts a wide array of local vendors on campus for our Farmer’s Market. 

We allow students to use Dining and Flex in addition to cash and credit. Our Sustainability Team works with our vendors to encourage awareness and education on the importance of supporting the local economy and food system, while engaging with the community. Our market is held from September through October in the fall and after Spring Break through the end of the semester in the spring. During that time period it is held every Wednesday from 9am – 4pm on the Madison Union Patio.

Dukes Reuse


JMU Dining continues to be focused on reducing the waste created on campus. Our programs offer opportunities for students to take this action into their own hands by directly cutting waste out of their lives.

  • Reusable To-Go Containers - We offer reusable to-go containers for students and staff through the Fill it Forward app. You can use them at Market 64, Bistro 1908, Corner Bistro, Festival, Blue Ridge Bowls, PC Wings, TLC, and Panda Express. We want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to live more sustainably on campus.

    • How to Join:
      • Ask a cashier to join and pay $5 deposit.
      • Download Fill it Forward app and enter the rental code the cashier gave you.
      • Enjoy your meal!
    • How to Use:
      • Receive your meal in a reusable container.
      • Scan QR code on your container with the Fill it Forward app and show cashier the checkmark screen.
      • Enjoy your meal!
    • How to Return:
      • Scan the QR code at the designated return spot and drop your container in the bin.

  • Personal Reusable Bottles and Mugs – You can bring your personal reusable mug or cup for dinks in any of our locations. Bring one along for your next coffee or fountain drink!

  • Discount for Reusables As an incentive, we offer a $0.25 discount for every use of a reusable to-go container on campus.



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.

  • Plant Foward
    • In partnership with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) JMU Dining hosted a plant-based culinary training as part of its ongoing efforts to develop strategies that increase plant-based food offerings for consumers. Currently, as part of its Healthy for Life 20 By 20 commitment with the American Heart Association, 30 percent of the main dishes we serve across locations are vegan or vegetarian, and 10 percent feature whole grains as their main ingredient.

Sustainable Menu-Items


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:

  • Monterey Bay Seafood Watch List

  • Cage-Free shell Eggs

  • 100% Grass-fed beef

  • Fair Trade Certified

  • Organic products/ produce

  • Rainforest Alliance

  • Certified American Humane Certified


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
  • Service
  • Harrisonburg VA Green Committee.      
  • Cross-Institutional Collaboration

The Sustainability Internship program is focused on advancing sustainability through dining-related activities. Each intern is involved with peer-to-peer education on content, such as local foods, waste reduction techniques, executing educational tabling, and running sustainability events. Interns have the ability focus their own initiatives based on their area of study and/or environmental passion. Ongoing projects include, but are not limited to: our on-campus farmers markets and reusable container program. If interested in becoming a JMU Dining Sustainability Intern please reach out to the Sustainability Coordinator (contact below). Pay rate is $14.30 per hour and students must work at least three hours per week, with maximum hours per week capped at 15 hours based on workstream availability.



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.   
    • JMU has 11 locations VA Green Certified and received the 2018 Green Dining Services of the Year Award.
  • Green RestaurantE-Hall, D-Hall, and Bistro 1908 all exceed environmental sustainability criteria in six categories - successfully accomplishing waste minimization, responsible sourcing, and efficient operations in order to gain this recognition. They are the only certified green restaurants in Harrisonburg.
  • Green Restaurant Certified


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

Contact Us


For more information on JMU's commitment to the environment, please contact us: 

Ben Rosenberger photo

Ben Rosenberger
JMU Dining Services

Ben joined JMU Dining to help promote and advance our sustainability initiatives on campus. He cares greatly about this campus and how it is treated. His primary focus is on reducing our environmental footprint, sourcing food locally, as well as to educate and empower both the University and local community on the importance of these actions. As a recent graduate of JMU, he holds a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing.