Sustainable Efforts

UNH Dining and the Community

At UNH Dining we believe it is everyone's responsibility to support their local community in whatever way they can. For our part, we strive to incorporate sustainable initiatives in every aspect of our daily operation and use local products from local producers whenever possible. Opportunities to improve how we work in relation to the community and environment are constantly emerging. Our goal is to evolve continuously with those opportunities in an effort to preserve those things that make New Hampshire such a special place.

To continually improve the sustainability of our operations, UNH Dining sets specific objectives we work toward on an annual basis. For example, in 2016, we sought to increase purchases of fruits and vegetables by 10%, while decreasing red meat purchases by 10%. This objective aligns with both our sustainability goals and Healthy UNH. Below are four objectives we will work toward over the next three years with the UNH community and our partners.

UNH Dining Sustainability Plan: 2017-2020

  1. Develop and implement an improved tracking system for sustainable food purchases
  2. In order to support sustainable food purchases, amend RFPs for distributors to include preferences regarding supplier traceability and sourcing flexibility
  3. Partner with the UNH Sustainability Institute to increase local and regional produce procurement by enhancing or developing new relationships with farms, food hubs, and/or distributors
  4. Continue pursuing innovative strategies to reduce red meat and increase fruit, vegetable, and whole grain purchases

Certified Green Restaurants®

All three of the dining halls and the UNH Dairy Bar at the University of New Hampshire have been 3 Star Certified Green Restaurants® by the Green Restaurant Association. Through continued sustainability efforts, waste elimination, energy conservation, and extensive recycling, the dining halls and UNH Dairy Bar were able to meet the requirements for this honor. To find out more information about the Green Restaurant Association and the certification details for the locations click on the links below:

"Take Less, Waste Less" Campaign 

This initiative hopes to bring conscious awareness of food waste generated within the dining halls by our guests with the goal of reducing unconsumed food for the betterment of the environment.  Currently, over 2 ounces of food pulp or ground up food waste, is generated per guest per visit.  Our goal is to reduce that amount through a variety of g strategies utilizing the simple, but powerful slogan “Take Less, Waste Less” which highlights the critical role guests play in controlling the amount of food waste generated.  The Take Less, Waste Less campaign will run throughout the academic year as Dining’s commitment to reduce unnecessary food waste.

Going Trayless

With the exception of Holloway Commons, all UNH Dining Services venues have gone trayless. When guests use plates without trays, the amount of waste decreases significantly. Research shows that when trays are removed from dining locations, less food is wasted, less energy is consumed, and the amount of water and detergents used decreases. Trays are available upon request in all locations. To help with portion control and reducing waste at all Dining halls guests can select a colorful Wildcat Plate to use for plating their food selections. The plate provides food group guidance for healthy meal choices and acts as a reminder to be mindful of nutrition and health. 

University Wide Efforts

UNH was the first university in the nation to sign the "Agreement of Intention and Collaboration" linked to the International Slow Food Association. In May of 2006, UNH signed the International Slow Food Principles "...for the purpose of creating a worldwide network of universities and research institutions linked to the International Slow Food Association." These principles include " of agricultural biodiversity, support of the rights of peoples to self-determination with regard to food and education of civilized society and training of workers in the food and agricultural sector."

UNH takes pride in supporting the local economy including fishermen. UNH Dining is currently sourcing 28% of their overall seafood purchases from local source. For an overview of the seafood program, read the complete case study here by Fine Farm to Institution New England.

UNH Dining works collaboratively with academic departments to support student internship programs and is working with the University to formulate an Eco-Gastronomy dual major.

Food Waste Pulpers and Compost Program    

UNH Dining has invested in food waste pulpers that take food waste and turn it into a pulp that is easily composted. UNH Dining also manages the pickup and delivery for the program which includes campus and town of Durham locations.

Support of the Campus Biodiesel Initiative    

UNH Dining and the New England Center have invested in waste oil collection systems that allow cooking oils to be saved and retrieved for conversion into Biodiesel Fuel. The fuel is used on campus to power farm equipment and heat campus greenhouses. UNH Dining also manages the collection and delivery of the waste oil.


We have partnered with the Purchasing and Energy Office to identify Energy Star and other efficient equipment. To date we have implemented measures including:

• Low-flow faucets and more efficient lighting.

• Air-cooled refrigeration used almost exclusively, as opposed to water-cooled which reduces water usage.

• Smaller plates are used at the dining halls to assist with less plate waste. 

• To support the Green Certified Cleaning Program we utilize non-caustic washing chemicals and other environmentally friendly cleaning products provided by EcoLab . 

Installed Waterless Urinals

UNH Dining has replaced 17 traditional urinals with waterless urinals that will eventually save an estimated 765,000 gallons of water per year and $20,000 in annual water and sewer costs. Because the new urinals eliminate flush valves, maintenance costs are also reduced.

Compost Program 

As part of the Food and Society Initiative, the Compost Program employs a viable and effective alternative to adding food waste to the wastewater stream or landfill where it remains a waste product. The compost process closes the food cycle and returns the valuable soil enriching nutrients in food and other organic waste to the soil. When returned to the land, finished compost improves soil texture, water-holding capacity and increases nutrient levels. 

Recycling and Waste Reduction

All cardboard, cans, plastic containers and office paper are recycled each day. Discount beverage prices are given in our retail locations when customers use a reusable mug.

New Hampshire Food Alliance 

The New Hampshire Food Alliance brings together the many diverse organizations, businesses, and individuals working to strengthen the food system across NH. By collaborating and learning from each other, we share knowledge and resources, reduce redundancy, and achieve greater collective impact throughout the state.