Going Green with UNF Dining Service

This is a blog re-posted from the official UNF Dining Services blog.

Written by Emerald Casto and Casey Hemphill, Junior Writers; Alice Sanchez, Senior Editor

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We often hear the term “food sustainability,” but just how many of us are aware of what the phrase really means? Simply put, food sustainability is the effort that aims to eliminate food waste on our planet while working to decrease the “footprint” it leaves on the environment. Regular and modest efforts to have a sustainable lifestyle may help our environment. It starts with eliminating waste in our communities and sometimes even our own homes.[1] Did you know that over 40% of the food produced around the world is wasted? Wow! The good news is that we can all take part in the food sustainability movement by taking part in initiatives, some of which are currently occurring here at UNF.

The Osprey Cafe and all the UNF Dining Services locations have made several changes over the last few years that not only help to eliminate waste but ensure our students, faculty, staff, and guests all have healthier options. One of the changes UNF Dining Services has made if offering eco-friendly, reusable plastics that help reduce the footprint left on the environment.[2] All the poultry products used have reduced levels of harmful antibiotics, the beef is certified humane, and all the seafood items are from sustainable sources. Cage-free eggs from happy chickens are used throughout all on-campus locations. There are vegan and vegetarian options served at the Osprey Cafe daily, as well as several other locations throughout campus.

UNF Dining Services works closely with the on-campus Frederick and Ophelia Tate’s Ogier Gardens to offer the UNF community fresh, locally grown fruits, herbs, and vegetables. You can see some of the seasonal produce available at the Osprey Café salad bar, the kitchen, and some of their other rocking stations. UNF Dining Services also partners with Food Fighters: Student-Powered Hunger Relief to eliminate food waste on campus. Compost initiatives are being utilized by various dining locations and even in the nutrition lab located in the Brooks College of Health.

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Now, let’s talk #green! Have you ever noticed that within the Osprey Cafe, there are no lunch trays? This small detail saves 255,000 gallons of water annually. Your Osprey Cafe is the only 3-Star Certified Green Restaurant in Florida![3] In fact, according to a statement released about our green certification, the Osprey Cafe received 145 points on the intensity scale that the Green Restaurant Association uses for certification. Waste, energy and food were the highest scoring categories. The Green Restaurant Association a nonprofit focused on making restaurants environmentally sustainable. This national organization that has been at the forefront of green initiatives for over 20 years. In partnership with the Green Restaurant Association, UNF Dining Services is taking steps to make your favorite cafe as green as possible. Excluding trays is not the only green thing happening daily at the Osprey Café. The Cafe recycled 38,000 pounds of cardboard, glass, and food packaging last year. That is 80% of the waste produced after serving UNF’s campus. How awesome is it that we have a place to chow down, right here on our beautiful campus, that is certified green?

As mentioned before, the Osprey Cafe also works closely with the Ogier Garden right here on campus. Ogier Gardens uses unused scraps from food preparation as compost to fertilize crops, then uses those crops to serve the Osprey Cafe fresh and delicious produce. Talk about #sustainable! There were 23,000 pounds of food composted just in 2018. We mentioned Food Fighters earlier as well. This program recovers unused, prepared foods and repackages the food into healthy, well-balanced meals. This is a resource on campus that is striving to fight hunger by donating delicious meals to the on-campus Lend-A-Wing food pantry and off-campus health clinics and homeless shelters. The Cafe has helped Food Fighters create over 13,000 meals since the partnership began two years ago. An effort taking place behind the scenes in the Cafe is a high efficiency pre-wash sprayer that saves enough water to fill six swimming pools annually. How neat! Even the motion sensor faucets and water-less urinals around campus contribute to our green certification.

These a just a few of the initiatives that UNF Dining Services has taken in the food sustainability movement. You can find additional information about sustainability efforts on campus here and you can read more about why the Osprey Café is the best place to eat in Florida here!

Stay Healthy, Ospreys!



1. Morawicki RO, Díaz González DJ. Food Sustainability in the Context of Human Behavior. Yale J Biol Med. 2018;91(2):191-196. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29955224. Accessed February 3, 2019.

2. Dine On Campus at University of North Florida. https://www.dineoncampus.com/unf/sustainability. Accessed February 3, 2019.

3. UNF – Media Relations – UNF Osprey Café Named 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant. https://www.unf.edu/publicrelations/media_relations/press/2018/UNF_Osprey_Café_Named_3_Star_Certified_Green_Restaurant.aspx. Accessed February 3, 2019.

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