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Image credit: MaryBeth Radeck

Sustainable Food & Dining

Surprisingly, commercial food preparation generates a substantial carbon footprint by consuming large amounts of energy and generating tons of waste. Chief among the energy wasted is from ventilation systems, cooking and dishwashing. Not only does dishwashing consume an inordinate amount of energy, it relies on a substantial amount of water, too.

Food and packaging represent hidden energy and carbon costs due to the secondary efforts to grow, manufacture and transport them, in addition to handling them as waste products.

Roosevelt University’s Dining Service addresses all of these issues and has become one of the only truly socially- and environmentally-responsible food service operations in the Midwest.

Growing and Composting Food On-Site

This year, the University is conducting a test on its rooftop to determine the types of herbs, vegetables and fruits best suited to grow there. (XX) modular containers on the 5th floor were outfitted with lightweight soil and fertilizer, then planted with seed in April.

By late May, chive, baby arugula, broccoli sprouts, thyme, baby spinach, chive and lettuce were the most successful. By the end of June sage, oregano, peas and beans were in abundance. A total of 22 lbs were harvested from the rooftop and shared with the Dining Center.

By July, lettuce, kale, endive, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, green onions, cucumbers, okra, squash, cucumbers and watermelons had been planted for a late summer harvest.

There are also plans to install a tumbler composter near the gardens on the 5th floor rooftop which will recycle the plant waste on the rooftop and enrich the soils there. 

Energy-Efficient Appliances

  • Air is conditioned prior release into the atmosphere through avtec EcoArch hoods
  • Exhaust hoods operate only when they sense heat and smoke, saving up to 40% in gas and electricity usage per year
  • Hobart Vulcan dishwasher is EnergyStar rated, reducing water energy use 50% over comparable models

Food Waste Recycling

  • All food waste is composted through a SOMAT waste disposal system. It is then collected and converted to compost, then used to support gardens at the University. These gardens grow food served on campus.
  • All carry out food packaging is compost-able, contributing to a closed circle of use

Responsible Food Service Partners

Roosevelt food service partners with suppliers which practice environmentally sound and socially-just practices such as:

Testa Produce

  • Operates a LEED certified produce facility supplying locally- and sustainably-grown and organic produce
  • Has pledged to support sustainable farming as a founding member of Greener Fields Together™, the food service’s first national farm-to-form sustainability program in the U.S.
  • Operates a fleet of biodiesel and electric trucks
  • Generates their own wind and solar power
  • Collects rainwater for reuse at their plant

Blue Sky Bakery

A local source with a social justice mission, partners with Chicago to employ at-risk youth, some of which are hired at Roosevelt

Metropolis Coffee

A local micro-roaster which purchases beans from farmers at fair-trade prices

Mahoney Environmental

Provides waste-free oil disposal by regenerating oil into other products, including biodiesel