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 of sustainable food production and consumption.
ONE: The Sustainable Food Collaborative (SFC) was formed in 2015 to create and implement the food-related goals of UVA’s sustainability plan. Striving to center food justice and food sovereignty in all of its initiatives, the SFC considers how to build a more equitable and genuinely inclusive food system where the agency of all stakeholders is recognized and celebrated.
SFC members represent several University entities, as well as community partners, including UVA Sustainability, Office of the Provost, Department of Politics, Institute for Engagement & Negotiation, Morven Farm, Virginia Humanities, UVA Dine, UVA Health System Dining, Local Food Hub, and Cultivate Charlottesville.
- In 2021, the SFC completed its Action Plan 2021-2030, which includes five priorities around which workgroups have formed to develop strategies and achieve the shared goals.
- Read SFC's latest annual report (2020-21) here.
TWO: OFS also 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 Food Pantry.
THREE: The UVA Student Garden on the corner of McCormick Road and Alderman Road is a gathering point for student and community groups to learn about the intersection of food, equity and sustainability. In partnership with UVA Dine, the student garden team organizes weekly workdays to maintain beds and harvest fruits and vegetables, which are sent home with volunteers or donated to the student-run UVA Community Food Pantry. The team also welcomes classes, CIOs, and community groups looking to participate in hands-on service opportunities - schedule a volunteer session or event.
Annually increase the percentage of sustainable food and beverage options available on-Grounds.
Decrease the amount of landfilled food waste from dining operations and increase compost and recycling from on-Grounds events.
Develop data-driven policies and programs to support food equity and security at UVA.
Increase awareness about sustainable and just food systems, and translate heightened awareness into informed choices and opportunities for direct participation.
Partner with community-driven food justice efforts and provide support, skills and resources to further their vision.
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 through the collaborative’s Goal 1 Workgroup.
We partnered with UVA Athletics to host two “Green Games” where student volunteers helped divert 59% of the waste from a football game, and 79% waste from a men’s basketball game, placing UVA 1st in the Atlantic Coast Conference. 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.
The Goal 3 Workgroup on Food Equity has created a map detailing the locations of all six food pantry locations on Grounds, hopefully giving students across schools at UVA a better idea of what resources are available to them. Click here for more information on hours of operation and additional resources.
In September, 2019, UVA students from different health disciplines participated in a Farm to Table Tour and Dinner at Morven to enjoy a meal and hear presentations on the health benefits of locally sourced foods. Also in 2019, the UVA Community Garden -- at the corner of Alderman and McCormick -- re-opened after a temporary closure for construction, providing a hands-on gardening experience for students. And students formed the Plant-Based Working Group to research how to promote more vegetarian offerings on Grounds.
In January, 2020, SFC hosted the Farm to University Forum at UVA’s Morven Farm, along with the Virginia Cooperative Extension and UVA Dining 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. Read more about this event and the solutions that resulted.