image showing fair trade coffee with pastry, UC Garden jalapenos, and eco containers


UW Food Services is at the forefront of developing and implementing environmental initiatives to leave a smaller carbon footprint on our planet. In fact, UWFS signed the Forward Food Pledge with the Humane Society International in January of 2019. Forward Food is a program supported by Friends of Humane Society International that helps foodservice companies across the country succeed with their plant-based food goals. The Forward Food pledge is a commitment to increasing plant-based options at an institution. 

Of course, feeding so many people, it's not easy, but with the help of services developed by University of Waterloo students and faculty, we’re making a big difference one lug-a-mug at a time. By sourcing through local suppliers, offering a variety of environmentally friendly meal options, supporting reusable container programs and ensuring our recycling and compost practices are optimized, UWFS continues to show its commitment to a sustainable future!

See our Sustainability Timeline here.

Local FoodChef Mark in the University Club (UC) Garden harvesting a large zucchini plant.

UW Food Services is committed to buying local to reduce the transportation emissions associated with our food. In fact, some ingredients are as local as our own back yard. The University Club Garden is a UWFS run garden that began in 2012, supplying our chefs with seasonal produce to use immediately or canned for use throughout the year.

Supporting local suppliers helps liven the local economy and ensures the freshness of our ingredients. That's why we get all of our produce from the Elmira Produce Cooperative (EPAC) and ensuring that we are aligning with the values that makes our Farm-to-Campus Fresh brand shine!

Our UW Farm Market also provides the UW community with on-campus access to fresh, local produce, honey and baked goods. Look for us this Fall!

Chickpea and rice bowlOffering Tasty, Sustainable Options

Since signing the Forward Food Pledge, our team has completed plant-based training and culinary workshops, we have continuously worked towards increasing plant forward choices year over year, offered zero waste and plant-based cooking shows and most recently we completed a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Analysis for our residence operations. Through these efforts we were able to reduce GHG emissions by 14% from 2019 to 2021. We are committed to continuing to make changes in our operations to support further reductions. We also increased plant-based protein options by 19% between 2019 and 2021. These included new Chef inspired vegan and vegetarian recipes on our hot table menu, along with a plant-based egg alternative, and many new plant based features at our grill, pizza, induction and burrito stations.  UW Food services is continuously searching for innovative and delicious vegan and vegetarian options to encourage eco-friendly eating.

Additionally, UWFS offers many choose-your-own, pay by weight options to reduce food waste. By ensuring students can customize their meals and choose portions that are best for their specific needs, we decrease the amount of food that goes uneaten in our kitchens and dining halls.

Certified Ethical SourcingCoffee and danish with fair trade symbol

University of Waterloo’s Fair Trade Certification makes certain that farmers and their workers are empowered to invest in themselves, protect the environment, and compete equitably in the global market. It ensures fair compensation, labor conditions and a variety of other benefits. Learn more about Fair Trade Here.

UW Food Services also prides themselves on meeting the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Standard for sustainable fishing practices. By solely purchasing seafood that meets this standard, we ensure that it is well-managed and sustainable, reflecting our commitment to certified ethical sourcing. Overfishing has a negative impact on wild fish populations and their eco-systems and thus, it is a priority for UWFS to be conscious of how our seafood is produced.

Eco Container ProgramReusable

In 2017, we launched an Eco-Container program at The Market in Claudette Millar Hall in UW Place (UWP). This initiative has since spread to all the residences and decreased the need of single use disposable take out containers. Launching in September 2023, first year students will have a brand new eco-container provided to them, free of charge thanks to our Eco-Container Grant through the Sustainability Office. Stay tuned!

We also promote our "lug-a-mug" program which offers discount coffee prices to students and staff who bring their own reusable coffee mug to any UW Food Services outlets.

Waste Sorting Bins

Recycle and Compost

Did you know that UW Food Services switched all our take-out packaging to eco-friendly, compostable containers or PET recyclable friendly containers?

We have also adopted to compostable straws to reduce plastic waste. UWFS ensures we recycle our glass, tin, cardboard and cooking oil - diverting over 4 tonnes of material going to the landfill each year.

Additionally, all new cafeteria trays are made from recycled material and recycling containers are always available at every UWFS location.