Green Initiatives  |  Cooking Practices   |  Coffee with a Conscious   |  Sustainable Purchasing   |  Recycling

USD Dining strives to offer fresh, wholesome foods and quality services in a sustainable way. We consider the environmental impact of our decisions and offer an array of eco-friendly cuisine that is good for you and mindful of the environment.

Green Initiatives

  • In an effort to reduce single-use plastics, disposable straws are now made of paper and available by request only in all campus dining units. Reusable stainless steel straw sets are available for purchase in all campus eateries. (2018)
  • USD Dining is the first campus in California to offer a sustain-a-bottle Freestyle program. (2016)
    • This reusable bottle has a unique RFID chip that allows you to purchase a semester's worth of refreshment at one time. Skip the line and get your refills when and where you want them! Choose from over 70 low, or no, calorie options while keeping disposable cups, lids and straws out of the landfill. 
  • USD is the first college campus to install a Biohitech Digester. (2009)
    • Our largest facility, Pavilion Dining (in the LEED certified Student Life Pavilion), utilizes this innovative machine that eliminates the need for composting. A highly refined formula of microorganisms and water break down all food scraps into liquid. Food wastes are entirely eliminated in approximately 24 hours, allowing the effluent to return to the ecosystem as gray water. Learn more about this fascinating technology via the Biohitech website.
  • Composting of all pre-consumer/back of the house food scraps takes place at all Dining retail units. Learn more about waste/composting on campus. 
  • USD Dining is 100% tray-free. This greatly reduces the amount of food waste and saves tremendous resources, such as water, dish soap and electricity. 
  • USD Dining is 100% styrofoam-free.

Cooking Practices

  • USD Dining has been trans-fat free (since 2005). We use a unique zero-trans fat, canola-corn oil blend that is low in saturated fat, has no greasy aftertaste and contains zero grams of trans-fat per serving. The used oil is recycled, and much of it is also turned into biodiesel. Press release
  • Our menus are thoughtfully planned to cross-utilize ingredients in recipes.
  • We source the freshest, natural, raw proteins in bulk and then add our own wholesome ingredients to create an array of unique dishes with minimal processing. 
  • Each day we prepare whole fruits and vegetables for our salad bars from scratch.
  • All dining locations offer vegetarian and vegan dishes. Try going Meatless on Mondays!
  • Tu Mercado is a natural foods grocery store that features earth-friendly products; foods, health, beauty and home goods. Tu Mercado is a NACUFS “Best in the Business” Campus C-Store award winner for Incorporating Sustainability into a Campus Store. (2010)
  • La Paloma café menu features sustainable, local, delicious food at its core. Our debut menu included: sustainable tuna (caught with the pole and line method) and provided by a local company, free-range antibiotic and hormone-free beef, and unrefined California olive oil.  

Coffee with a Conscious

  • All dining locations feature alumni-owned, locally operated, Ryan Bros. Fair Trade and organic coffees and teas.
    • Fair Trade occurs when the grower receives a fair price for his/her coffee. Fair Trade growers also must meet the following criteria: (1) high quality product, (2) workers are treated, housed, fed, educated, and paid above average levels, and (3) the surrounding environment is treated with the respect it deserves.
  • China cups are available for in-house use in retail coffee locations (Aromas, Bert’s Bistro, La Paloma, L’atelier, Bosley Fitness Center Cafe.)
  • Bring your own travel mug and receive a $ .25 discount on your beverage.

Sustainable Purchasing

  • Sustainable purchasing practices are followed for all products - food, packaging, merchandise and more. For example, we require consolidated food and merchandise deliveries from our vendors, thus cutting down on natural resources and saving on costs. 
  • We work closely with our prime food vendor, Sysco, to continue to provide an increasing number of sustainably sourced foods. Read more about: Sysco Social Responsibility.
  • Organic and natural food and merchandise offerings are available in all locations via a partnership with United Natural Foods, Inc. UNFI Sustainability Reports
  • Coca-Cola's Sustainability Report (the university's prime beverage provider) 
  • Sustainable disposable-ware:
    • Straws are available on request and are made of paper instead of plastic.
    • Paper plates are made from 100% reclaimed fiber, unbleached and compostable.
    • The vast majority of disposable packaging is greenware (made of recycled content and/or biodegradable.)
    • Clear cups for cold beverages are made of polylactic acid from corn. Cups for hot beverages are made from renewable fiber with polylactic acid lining.
    • Coffee sleeves and napkins are made of 100% recycled fibers.
    • Disposable flatware is made from plant starch. EcoProducts are comprised of 70% renewable resources.


  • USD Dining is a part of the university-wide efforts to address the need for additional recycling options on campus and a "zero waste" goal. One of the ways we keep waste out of the landfill is via our BioHitech digester machine in Pavilion Dining. Recycling info: on-campus and off-campus
  • All cardboard packaging and office paper is recycled.
  • Most consumer food and beverage packaging can be recycled. 
  • Aromas Coffeehouse coffee grounds are available to the campus for use as garden fertilizer.