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Sustainability in the Food System

Dining Services Partners to Alleviate Hunger, Avoid Waste, and Address Climate Pollution

As part of the Division of Student Affairs and a campus leader in environmental stewardship, University of Maryland Dining Services has been instrumental in helping the University reach its climate goals and become a model “green university.” In support of campus sustainability goals, Dining Services developed and adopted the Sustainable Food Action Plan in October 2012, committing to continuously provide more nutritious and environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable food to campus diners.

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UMD Graduate Student and Office of Sustainability Outreach Associate poses at Cool Food Pledge Outreach event
Cool Food Pledge
In 2019, UMD became the first university signatory of the Cool Food Pledge to slash food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030, aligning with the UN 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. The Cool Food Pledge is an initiative of the World Resources Institute, UN Environment, Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, Health Care Without Harm, Practice Greenhealth, Climate Focus, EAT, and the Sustainable Restaurant Association. The pledge’s three-pronged approach of “Pledge-Plan-Promote” gives UMD-DS the opportunity to not only serve delicious dishes with smaller climate footprints, but educate about climate action as well. The Cool Food Pledge launched a new decade and transformation of Dining Services’ engagement with students, the broader campus community, peer institutions and fellow signatories.
Menus of Change
Menus of Change University Research Collaborative
In Summer 2018, Dining Services joined the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC), an extension of the Menus of Change®. MCURC is a collaboration of forward-thinking scholars, food service leaders, executive chefs, and administrators for colleges and universities who are accelerating efforts to move people toward healthier, more sustainable, and delicious foods using evidence based research, education, and innovation. At the core of this collaborative are the 24 Menus of Change Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus.
Undergraduate student harvesting butternut squash at Terp Farm
Terp Farm
Terp Farm is a partnership between the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Dining Services to grow sustainable produce on University land to be served on campus. Vegetables are grown with the help of students through course-work, labs, internships, and volunteer experiences. A portion of the produce is also donated to the campus community through the UMD Campus Pantry.
Students presenting their research at 2019 Sustainable Food Symposium
Student Research
Each semester, students engaged in sustainable food research and projects in partnership with Dining Services present their work at a Sustainable Food Symposium. Presentations at the Fall 2019 Sustainable Food Symposium included a Cool Food Pledge Action Plan, Ocean Friendly Campus Evaluation, Cool Food Pledge Health Co-Benefits and Understanding Decision-Making and Food Choices.
Undergraduate students transferring food for delivery to local organizations (pre COVID)
Food Recovery Network
The Food Recovery Network, a national network of student volunteers, started at UMD and recovers surplus food from dining operations to alleviate hunger and reduce food waste. Recovered food is donated in the local Washington DC area to those in need. Between 2013 and 2019, Food Recovery Network student leaders, volunteers and partner student organizations recovered 288,292 lbs (130,767 kg) of food.
people working in the UMD campus pantry
Campus Pantry and Hunger-Free UMD Workgroup
The UMD Campus Pantry has received a three-year grant from AmeriCorps VISTA, a federally funded service program, to expand the capacity of the Pantry to reach food insecure students. In partnership with Campus Compact Mid Atlantic (CCMA), Brian Meko, the CCMA AmeriCorps VISTA member serving at the UMD Campus Pantry, will develop a number of initiatives. Chief among these initiatives is the establishment of the Hunger-Free UMD Workgroup, a new campus-wide coalition focused on combating food insecurity and its surrounding issues with the goal of creating a hunger-free campus.

Alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goals

UN Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger

UN Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

UN Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action

Learn more about these Global Goals