UVA's goal is to increase sustainable food purchases to 30% of 2010 levels by 2030.
From student vegetable gardens to local food in dining facilities, the University is supporting a sustainable food system to reduce negative environmental and social impacts from agriculture, food processing and distribution while strengthening UVA’s connection within the region.
The Office for Sustainability (OFS) supports three primary focus areas to achieve this overarching goal:
1) Morven Kitchen Garden
OFS partners with the Morven Kitchen Garden (a UVA-affiliated property) by helping connect students interested in internships and research on agricultural issues with the Morven program to dig in and get hands-on experience at this historic farm in Albemarle County. Much of the produce from the garden is shared with the UVA Food Pantry.
2) Student Garden
Located on the corner of McCormick and Alderman, the garden is a gathering point for student and community members to learn about the intersection of food, equity and sustainability. In partnership with UVA Dine, the garden team organizes weekly workdays to maintain beds and harvest produce, which is sent home with volunteers or donated to the student-run UVA Food Pantry. The team also welcomes classes, CIOs and community groups looking to participate in hands-on service opportunities.
3) Sustainable Food Collaborative
The Sustainable Food Collaborative (SFC) formed in 2015 to create and implement the food-related goals of UVA’s sustainability plan.
Striving to center food justice in all of its initiatives, the SFC considers how to build a more genuinely inclusive food system where the agency of all stakeholders is recognized and celebrated.
A unique collaborative in sustainable food efforts in higher education in the U.S., the SFC represents several UVA entities, including the Office for Sustainability, Office of the Provost, Department of Politics, Institute for Engagement & Negotiation, Morven Farm, UVA Dine, UVA Health System Dining and Virginia Humanities, as well as community partners Local Food Hub and Cultivate Charlottesville.
The Sustainable Food Collaborative has 5 broad goals:
- Annually increase the percentage of sustainable food and beverage options available on Grounds.
PROGRESS: UVA has three dining operations which provide food to the UVA Health System, UVA Dine, and Darden School of Business. The providers are working to bring sustainable food options to the UVA community. In 2021, UVA Dine increased by 33% the amount it spent on sustainable food and beverage.
- Decrease the amount of landfilled food waste from dining operations and increase compost and recycling from on-Grounds events.
PROGRESS: OFS partnered with UVA Athletics to host two “Green Games” in the 2020-21 season where student volunteers helped divert 59% of the waste from a football game, and 79% waste from a men’s basketball game, placing UVA first in the Atlantic Coast Conference. In 2022, UVA Athletics designated for the first time that all home football games would be “Green Games.”
We also partnered with UVA Health System to divert 15 tons of compost for the year, the equivalent of 6.43 metric tons of climate pollution.
- Develop data-driven policies and programs to support food equity and security at UVA.
PROGRESS: The SFC Workgroup on Food Equity created a map of the locations of all six food pantry locations on Grounds to give students a better idea of what resources are available to them.
- Increase awareness about sustainable and just food systems and translate heightened awareness into informed choices and opportunities for direct participation.
PROGRESS: Students have formed the Plant-Based Working Group to research how to promote more vegetarian offerings on Grounds. In collaboration UVA Dine, they released a “Guide to Eating Plant-Based on Grounds,” of sustainable options for students on a meal plan and piloted a “Cool Food Meals” program in several dining rooms to help students identify climate-friendly meals.
Partner with community-driven food justice efforts and provide support, skills and resources to further their vision.
PROGRESS: In January, 2020, SFC hosted the Farm to University Forum at UVA’s Morven Farm, along with the Virginia Cooperative Extension and UVA Dine to explore how Virginia universities can better support the state’s food and agriculture economy. The event drew more than 65 participants from across Virginia representing 12 universities and a variety of other stakeholders. Key topics ranged from expanding the business relationship between Virginia universities and Small, Women-owned, and Minority-owned Businesses (SWaM) to how university dining operations can still achieve economies of scale.