Food Focus Team

Cornell is engaged in building a more sustainable food system across New York State and the region....

The Food Focus Team is one of the 10 President's Sustainable Campus Committee Focus Teams.

Every day, we all eat to fuel our bodies. Our relationship with food is one of our most intimate relationships with the world around us – as we ingest part of it and it becomes part of us. And every day, Cornell’s dining facilities and campus food vendors serve over 15,000 students, staff and faculty, providing an excellent opportunity for outreach and education. How can we eat smarter and healthier? What can we do to reduce food waste? Do we know where our food comes from and how it is produced? What can Cornell do to contribute to a sustainable food system beyond our campus? By addressing these questions and many others, the Food Focus Team strives to support local farms and producers, divert food-based waste from landfills, provide nutritious and healthful food choices and inspire everyone toward more conscious consumption.

Our team includes representatives from Cornell Dining, the Statler Hotel, independent eating establishments across campus such as Manndible Café and the Temple of Zeus, the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Dilmun Hill Student Farm, and students and faculty from various departments and interest groups.

  1. Support regional farmers and producers, improve human health, and are economically affordable to our community.
  2. Food service facilities minimize waste at every stage of their operations.
  3. Campus community members are knowledgeable about the complexity of the food system and can make informed choices that support a sustainable food system.
  4. Students, staff, and faculty collaborate on research projects that address sustainable food at Cornell.
  5. University policies consistently support a sustainable food system at Cornell.


1. Prevent food waste at all stages of the supply/consumption chain

    • Implemented trayless dining in 9 of 10 Dining All-You-Care-to-Eat units, resulting in drastic reduction of post-consumer food waste and water use
    • Composted about 850 tons of food scraps and other materials annually from 22 Dining units and food vendors on campus.
    • Almost all packaging and tableware can be reused, recycled or composted
    • Provided discounts when bringing your own mug/cup to cafes
    • Increased food donations to area food banks and local community meals programs

2. Increase sustainable food sourcing

    • Supported more than 100 local food suppliers
    • Were certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for using sustainably sourced seafood in two dining units
    • Offered tap water through water filtration stations around campus and at all Dining units
    • Collaborated with Cornell’s organic student farm, Dilmun Hill
    • Offered fair trade coffee and/or coffee from local roasters (e.g. Finger Lakes Roasters)
    • Worked with local farmers and producers to purchase New York beef for Dining units and ran a university wide local beef marketing campaign

3. Educate & inspire the campus community

    • Increased vegetarian/vegan options – Cornell now ranks in second place in PETA2’s most vegan-friendly college in the US
    • Offered healthful food choices throughout campus: no trans fats or HFCS and reduced sodium
    • Ran “Eating Well with Cornell Dining” educational campaign, identifying dining units and menu items that are high fiber, reduced sugar, fat, and sodium and use whole foods ingredients

4. Partner with students and faculty on research projects

    • Collaborated with students and faculty on more than 20 research projects in 2011/2012

Food Team
Dan Dosztan, Purchasing Manager,
Jane Mt. Pleasant, Associate Professor, Horticulture,

President's Sustainable Campus Committee Focus Teams