Sustainability

UMass Dining begins labeling the carbon footprint of menu items

The university says it’s the first in the U.S. to highlight the carbon impact of individual dishes.
cauliflower
Fruits and vegetables, such as cauliflower, tend to carry a lower carbon footprint./Photo: Shutterstock

In what it says is a first for higher-ed foodservice across the country, the dining program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has started labeling individual menu items with a rating that corresponds to their carbon footprint.

The team is working with carbon-labeling platform My Emissions to help determine the carbon footprint of dishes, according to a press release. Items are labeled with the letters A through Ewith A connoting the lowest carbon impact and E, the highest.

This initiative debuted during Earth Week in the university’s Hampshire Dining Commons. Carbon footprint details are also available on online menus and via UMass Dining’s app.

“We are excited to launch this carbon rating system in our dining program as part of our efforts to empower students with information so that they can make educated decisions for both their personal and planetary health,” Ken Toong, executive director of auxiliary enterprises, said in the release.

In a survey conducted by UMass Dining last fall, 76% of student respondents said that lowering their carbon footprint was something important to them.

After recently receiving a grant to include more climate-friendly kelp in dishes, the UMass team has done just that, with plans to ramp things up further over a two-year period.

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