Take it To-Go! Food Trucks, Mobile Ordering & Delivery available! Learn more!

What We Do

Reducing our carbon heelprint

We understand the power and centrality of food in our daily lives and recognize that the foods we choose to serve have a direct impact on our health, culture, environment and local economies. CDS is committed to changing the culture of food by nourishing guests with menus that emphasize sustainable, fresh, whole foods that are raised, grown, harvested and produced locally whenever possible. We are also dedicated to constantly improving our sustainable practices, which is why we welcome constructive criticism of our methods and make it a top priority to partner with student-led environmental groups on shared initiatives. Learn more about our program by reading our most recent Sustainability Report located under the Sustainability tab on our main menu.

  • Purchase products from within a 250-mile radius of campus, giving preference to North Carolina vendors, whenever the quality and quantity fits CDS’ needs and meets financial goals.
  • Regularly track sustainable food purchases (local, third-party certified, and sustainably harvested).
  • Seek out third-party certified options, including organic, fair trade, Rainforest Alliance, humane, grass-fed, Animal Welfare Approved, and “Best Choice” as defined by Monterey Bay Seafood Watch.
  • Participate in the Real Food Calculator, consistently raising the percentage of “real food” purchases each year.
  • Utilize a weekly sustainable foods rotation in the dining halls to expand sustainable food offerings, which are flagged on our menus.
  • Emphasize sustainability at 1.5.0., a CDS food court concept, dedicated to serving sustainable foods.
  • Feature Meat “Less” Mondays at both dining halls by reducing meat options and increasing vegetarian and vegan offerings every Monday. Additionally, a variety of vegetarian and vegan options are available daily in the dining halls and food courts.


  • A concept in our busiest food court dedicated to fresh, sustainable and local food, 1.5.0. A direct response to UNC-Chapel Hill students’ call for a healthier, fresher, more sustainable food option on campus. The 1.5.0. brand was selected by members of the Student Dining Board and refers to our commitment to purchasing local, sustainable and organic food.
  • Rams Head Plaza, home of Chase Dining Hall, collects over 56,000 gallons of water per year with its rainwater cisterns.
  • 15 new Energy Star-rated pieces of equipment for Lenoir Hall.
  • In Fall 2011, Top of Lenoir, located in Lenoir Hall, was renovated with energy efficient LED (light emitting diode) lighting. LED lighting saves between 50 to 90 percent in energy costs compared to incandescent or compact fluorescent lighting. All countertops installed are made from 25 percent recycled glass. The wood paneling on the counters is a composite material made from 23 percent post-consumer recycled wood and the paints used were specified to be low in volatile organic compounds.
  • Menus are displayed on LCD flat screen televisions within our dining halls and select food courts, erasing the need for printed menus.
  • All plastic dinnerware in Top of Lenoir and Chase was replaced with bamboo dinnerware. Bamboo is a natural, fast-growing and renewable material; it also requires minimal chemicals and fertilizers during harvesting. Furthermore, the bamboo industry has high potential to stimulate rural economies boosting small farmers out of poverty, enabling them to sustain themselves economically.
  • Recyclable and compostable disposables in Lenoir Mainstreet, Top of Lenoir, Chase Dining Hall, and Cafe McColl.
  • Reusable mug and water bottle program discounted refills on each hot beverage and fountain beverage purchased in retail operations, including Lenoir Mainstreet, McColl Café, The Beach Café, Ram’s Market, Genomic Café and The Atrium.
  • Reusable to-go containers in Top of Lenoir and Chase Dining Halls, resulting in the diversion of nearly 76,000 disposable containers each semester.
  • Trayless dining program reducing water consumption by 144,000 gallons per year.

Waste Diversion

  • Employ a Food Waste Management System to identify and eliminate wasteful procedures.
  • Track food production to better forecast future purchasing.
  • Digital menu and announcement boards are located in the dining halls and select food courts in lieu of printed menus and paper signage.
  • Purchase bulk dispensers to reduce packaging, e.g. beverages, condiments, cereals.
  • Utilize plates and cups made partially from bamboo, a renewable resource, in the dining halls.
  • Offer .99 refills for all customers who bring a reusable mug or bottle 16 ounces or less to Lenoir Mainstreet, the Beach Café, Genomic Café, The Atrium, McColl Cafe, Rams Market for fountain beverage and coffee purchases.
  • Provide reusable to-go containers in both dining halls that have eliminated the use of approximately 76,000 disposable containers every semester.
  • Offer metal, glass, and plastic recycling bins in all dining locations, and paper recycling bins in offices.
  • Recycle cardboard boxes received from food deliveries at all locations.
  • Filter fryer oil at all dining locations for extended life and recycled into biodiesel.
  • Offer recycled content napkins and compostable straws in both dining halls.
  • Use recyclable and/or compostable packaging at Mediterranean Deli, Sitar, Sushinara, Lenoir Mainstreet salad/soup bars and 1.5.0.
  • Carry out pre-consumer composting at the Beach Café and Friday Center and food waste composting in both dining halls.
  • Front-of-house-composting available at  Beach Café, Chase Hall and Lenoir Mainstreet, the campus’ largest retail location.

Community Involvement

  • Provide weekly donations of approximately 200 pounds of food to the nearby Inter-Faith Council.
  • Partner with the UNC Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling to seek out cross-promotional opportunities for waste-related initiatives, obtain and exchange waste diversion statistics, and organize recycling and composting pick-ups.
  • Participate in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS).
  • Partner with the UNC Office of Sustainability to gain insight into the most valued campus sustainability initiatives and to provide the office with the food and beverage purchasing data needed for AASHE STARS.
  • Offer weekly educational and awareness tabling and information sessions designed to engage students and promote current sustainable food efforts, highlight environmentally related holidays and gather support for current CDS initiatives.
  • Partner with Fair Local Organic Food (FLO), a student organization at UNC, to develop a more sustainable dining program that includes monthly Theme Meals that feature sustainable food education and offerings.
  • Host campus Farmers Markets with FLO each semester, providing customers an opportunity to engage directly with local farmers.
  • Meet weekly with the Student Dining Board to discuss new and innovative sustainable dining initiatives.
  • Continued work with a collection of students for participation in the Real Food Calculator since 2010.
  • Work with UNC students annually on Capstone projects, the latest of which concentrated on local food sourcing.
  • CDS staff members join together and participate in an annual Habitat for Humanity event.