Table of Contents

Carbon Footprint of Food

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are generated by a person, organization, product, or event. It is measured in units of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e). Food production, processing, transportation, and storage contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the carbon footprint of food refers to the emissions produced throughout the life cycle of a food product, from the production of raw materials to the disposal of food waste. Factors that contribute to the carbon footprint of food include the type of food, the location of production, the type of farming or production practices used, the mode of transportation, and the packaging used. By understanding the carbon footprint of food, individuals and organizations can make more informed choices about what they eat and how they produce and consume food in a more sustainable way.

Making Our Impact on the World, Not the Planet

Campus Dining has partnered with UB Sustainability to highlight the carbon impact of dining options because students have expressed that the climate crisis informs their decision making and want to reduce their carbon footprint. Since global food production accounts for nearly 1/3 of all greenhouse gas emissions, switching to low-carbon dining is a highly impactful way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.

Low-carbon dining refers to making food choices that have low greenhouse gas emissions associated with their life cycle. Some examples of low-carbon foods are: nuts, soy products, local vegetables, and dairy alternatives. Some food on the high end of carbon impact are: beef, lamb, cheese, chocolate, and coffee.

Phases of this Initiative

Phase 1 – Plant Powered Mondays in April 2023

On each Monday during the month, guests will find a more plant-powered and decreased meat menu beyond the Strictly Vegetarian section at Crossroads Culinary Center (C3). The dining center will highlight the diverse plant protein options as well as the alternative options that are now widely available. The purpose of the initiative is to encourage students to look at the environmental cost of meat but not to forbid it.

The launch of Menu Identifiers: On each Monday during the month, guests will find a more plant-powered and decreased meat menu beyond the Strictly Vegetarian section at Crossroads Culinary Center (C3). The dining center will highlight the diverse plant protein options as well as the alternative options that are now widely available. The purpose of the initiative is to encourage students to look at the environmental cost of meat but not to forbid it.

This new system makes it easier to consider the carbon impact of the food in the dining center and find routine ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your food choices. We do not expect every student to completely change what they eat, just have the information they need to reduce their carbon footprint with the food they are choosing every day. Small changes can make a big difference.

Low Carbon Footprint

Low Carbon Footprint
0 - .29 kg CO2

Moderate Carbon Footprint

Moderate Carbon Footprint
.3 - .59 kg CO2

High Carbon Footprint

High Carbon Footprint
.6 - 1+ kg CO2

Methodology behind the Grading Icons

To calculate the carbon footprint of the dishes served at UB, we considered the carbon emissions associated with each ingredient that goes into a recipe. We utilized scientific carbon emissions calculated by MyEmissions. They have created a comprehensive, open-source database of emissions for ingredients by performing life cycle analysis from cradle to store.

Together with the list of ingredients and quantities in each recipe, the total carbon footprint associated with each dish was calculated. After analyzing the data, we established criteria to categorize emissions into high, medium, and low thresholds.

Ïncrease your low carbon footprint Intake, decrease your high carbon footprint intake

Minimize Your Carbon Footprint

The UB community can utilize this tool to identify the carbon footprint of the dishes around campus and make more sustainable choices when it comes to food. Choosing more foods with low carbon footprint and fewer foods with a high carbon footprint can greatly decrease the institution’s carbon footprint. Let's all be change agents and create a better future!

Food & Purchasing

Sustainable Foods

Made in Grown in New York

We are proud to support New York State food growers, producers and manufacturers because doing so benefits our state economy and the environment. To help you identify these products that are grown, produced and manufactured in New York State, we created the Made In/Grown In New York icon. We know the importance of helping our community find and choose New York products, so we are focused on building relationships with growers, food artisans, and food manufacturers throughout the state.

When you see the Made In/Grown In New York icon on campus, you know you can enjoy great tasting products that are fresh from the farm, supporting New York jobs and even helping reduce carbon emissions.

Supporting New York


  • Adams
    • Great Lakes Cheese — Adams
  • Akron
    • Perry's Ice Cream — Ice Cream
  • Avon
    • Barilla — Pasta
  • Buffalo
    • Battistoni — Meats
    • Al Cohen's Bakery — Breads
    • Father Sam's — Pitas/Breads
    • Galbani/Sorrento — Cheese
    • Golden Cup — Coffee
    • General Mills — Cereal
    • McCullagh Coffee — Coffee
    • Rich's — Pizza Dough
    • Rosina Foods — Pasta/Meats
    • Upstate Farms — Dairy Products
    • Wardynski's — Meats
  • Cicero
    • Pepsi Beverages Company — Bottled Beverages
  • Cheektowaga
    • Costanzo's Bakery — Breads/Rolls
  • Avon
    • Barilla — Pasta
  • Cuba
    • Empire Cheese — Cheese
  • Jamestown
    • The Basket Co. — Dried Fruits/Snacks/Nuts
  • Kirkwood
    • Frito-Lay — Chips/Snacks
  • Latham
    • Pepsi Beverages Company — Fountain Beverage Mixes
  • New Berlin
    • Chobani — Yogurt
  • Port Byron
    • NY Malted Waffle — Waffle Mix
  • Rochester
    • Midstate Bakery — Breads/Rolls
  • Rome
    • Sovena — Cooking Oils
  • Stafford
    • Red Osier — Roast Beef


  • Burt
    • Niagara Fresh Fruits — Seasonal Fruits
  • Clarence
    • Kreher's Farm Fresh Eggs — Eggs
  • Eden
    • Eden Valley Growers — Seasonal Vegetables
  • Holley
    • Piedmonte Farms — Seasonal Vegetables
  • Lockport
    • Freatman Farms — Seasonal Vegetables
    • Robinson Farms — Seasonal Vegetables
  • Lyndonville
    • Dobbins Orchards — Seasonal Fruits
  • North Collins
    • Bowman Farms — Seasonal Produce
  • Ransomville
    • Goodman Farms — Seasonal Vegetables


  • Auburn
    • Johnston Paper — Paper Goods/Cleaners
  • Buffalo
    • Boulevard Produce — Produce
    • U.S. Foods — Major Foods Accounts
    • James Desiderio Produce — Produce
  • Falconer
    • Maplevale Farms — Meats
  • Rochester
    • Regional Distributors — Specialty Cones/Ice Cream Products

More Information About Our Farms

Eden Valley Growers
  • For over 125 years, W.D. Henry & Sons, Inc., located in Eden, New York has provided fresh produce and flowers. They continue to supply UB Campus Dining with fresh vegetables such as broccoli, sweet corn, green & red bell peppers, and squash.
    “We pride ourselves on quality, integrity, and maintaining up-to-date production and food safety practices.” — Mark & Dan Henry
  • Located in Eden, New York, Amos Zittel & Sons, Inc. is focused on producing highest quality fresh fruits and vegetables. They currently harvest over 300 acres of fresh produce, sending peppers and squash to UB Campus dining services.
Piedmonte Farms

Bowman Farms Inc.
Since 1944, Bowman Farms has operated to provide the best produce for its customers in North Collins, NY. Bowman Farms has produced many ingredients used in our dining centers such as tomatoes, various peppers, summer and winter squash.
“We have made it our mission to provide reliable products and services in our customer-driven approach.” — Bowman Farms

Piedmonte Farms
Piedmonte Farms had its start in 1911, now they are located on 3,000 acres of land in Holley, New York. They grow a variety of fresh produce such as green beans, green peppers, tomatoes, and garlic that are delivered to UB.
“We are committed to the development and conservation of healthy soil that will grow crops which are healthier and safer for everyone.” — Piedmonte Farms

Sustainable Purchasing

Chef Neil at herb garden
  • Our napkins, made from recycled paper, are housed in single-sheet dispensers that let you pull one napkin at a time. This system allows you take only what you need, eliminating wasteful piles of unused napkins.
  • Our resident and retail dining locations are Polystyrene (Styrofoam) free – using only paper-based tableware, many of which are compostable.
  • Stewardship of ocean resources and supporting sustainable aquaculture is critical for long-term viability of our seafood supply. Campus Dining & Shops is dedicated to ensuring that all of the seafood we serve is caught or raised sustainably.
  • We do not use any endangered fish or any type of endangered seafood.

Green Scene

Recycling & Waste Reduction

  • All resident and retail dining locations recycle their cooking oil through Buffalo BioDiesel.
  • In cooperation with the university’s Facilities department, we recycle glass and plastic bottles, metal cans, cardboard boxes, office paper and toner cartridges.
  • TOMRA Uno reverse vending machines are in use across UB North and South Campuses. The machines recognize, accept and sort all plastic recyclable containers, giving a bottle refund receipt for items that qualify under the New York Bottle Deposit program. You can find reverse vending machines in the Ellicott Complex's Evans Quad & Ellicott Food Court, Natural Sciences Complex, Capen Hall, Knox Hall, Student Union, Governors Complex's Lehman Hall, and Harriman Hall.
  • All of our Residential Dining Centers and several of our retail dining locations such as The Greenery, Pistachio’s, The Tiffin Room, and The Center for Tomorrow use china plates and silverware which are washed and reused.
Campus Dining & Shops reusable mug
  • We encourage the use of personal reusable mugs and cups for coffee and fountain beverage purchases at all Campus Dining and Shops locations. When you use your own travel cup or mug, you'll save $0.20 on your drink purchase.

Energy & Water Conservation

  • Our Residential Dining Centers are trayless. By being tray-free we use less energy and water to wash each tray. It takes about ¼ gallon of water to wash just one tray. Research also shows that by being tray-free, the amount of food waste decreases by one ounce per plate. The average person throws 163 pounds of food away each year!
  • To conserve on water, spray heads that are used in our kitchen dish rooms to rinse dirty pots, pans and dishes are high efficiency low-flow. This reduces our water usage by more than 50 gal. per minute.
  • We have purchased wind energy certificates to offset the carbon emissions from the power it takes to operate our public websites. 

Ecosystem Preservation

  • Composting Food Waste: By composting pre-consumer food waste and post-consumer food scraps, we are eliminating thousands of pounds from ending up in landfills. Instead, these materials are turned into renewable resources — such as electricity or natural gas — through a process called anaerobic digestion.