Cornell proudly supports healthy and sustainable food efforts by offering sustainability-driven dining facilities on campus, supporting student-grown organic foods for the community, purchasing from regional farms, and reducing food waste on campus.
Cornell Dining leads the transformation of our campus food systems to increase sustainability, health, and local resilience for our farms and producers. Our dining facilities aim to lessen the environmental footprint related to day-to-day dining operations through the use of reusable mugs, compostable food packaging, tray-less dining and other earth-friendly options whenever possible.
Cornell Dining demonstrates a commitment to sustainability through programs such as the Local Food Growers Initiative, enabling the University to purchase fresh produce from local sources. To further promote sustainable food in our community Cornell Dining also organizes events with local farmers and chefs to build partnerships that support healthy and sustainable food habits, such as our annual Farm-to-You Fall Harvest Dinner.
Highlights of campus sustainability in food and dining:
Supporting Menus of Change, a long-term vision for the integration of optimal nutrition and public health, environmental stewardship and restoration, and social responsibility concerns within foodservice
The student-run Dilmun Hill Farm offers a community supported agriculture (CSA) program.
Okenshields, a food court in Willard Straight Hall, features ground beef from local providers.
Trayless dining at 9 out of 10 all-you-can eat locations, reducing food waste and conserving electricity and water.
Cornell Dining began sending food scraps for composting in 1998. Last year, Cornell Dining composted about 700 tons of food scraps and organic waste from our dining rooms and our retail dining eateries.
Our chefs and food preparers compost in all our kitchen facilities (pre-consumer composting), and our customers can compost their waste (post-consumer composting) at Martha's Café, Mattins Café, Risley Dining, Atrium Café, Big Red Barn, Bus Stop Bagels, and Café Jennie.
All of our kitchen facilities use pre-consumer composting.
Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES) Farm Services handles composting, generating about 7,406 tons per year. We use this nutrient-rich soil to power our farms.
Discount programs for use of reusables like coffee mugs for hot drinks
All apples are supplied by Cornell Orchards, and most dairy products from Cornell Dairy.
Here is how you can take action to create more sustainable food systems and choices at Cornell University:
- Meatless Mondays and a Plant-Based Diet
Did you know animal protein uses 12 times more land, 13 times more fossil fuels, and 15 times more water than vegetable protein sources? Join our pledge to eat more delicious plant-based foods during Meatless Mondays. Examples of dishes you might try include fresh broccoli and cashew stir fry, or roasted, herbed potatoes and garlic braised greens.
- Purchase Reusable Takeout Container
Guests who'd like to take their meals to go at several of our eateries have the option to use an Eco-Takeout reusable container. The reusable container has a one-time charge and when you bring it back rinsed on your next visit, you can swap it for a freshly washed and sanitized reusable container for your next meal. You're welcome to buy yours at any of the participating eateries, and bring it back to any of the participating eateries.
- Compost Your Food Waste
Farm Services collects the organic waste from Cornell Dining and composts it at Cornell's Industrial Compost Facility. The end product is used for campus landscaping, university experimental farms, and sold to local landscape companies. Learn how to compost properly!
Learn more about:
Nutrition & Health
Ensuring the all-encompassing health of farmers, growers, and consumers.
Making nutritious food available for all, no matter economic or social background.
Local, Sustainable, & Plant-Based
Creating systems that benefit our bodies, our lifestyles, and our community.
Food & Dining Rankings and Ratings
Cornell University completes the AASHE STARS report annually and reports publicly on over 300 sustainability metrics. Learn more about our Food & Dining scores and progress on our STARS page.
60% of meals at Cornell University are local, sustainable, or plant-based. Learn more about this and other sustainability awards.