Our dining halls serve 100% sustainable seafood as well as fair trade and organic coffee, and Chefs build menus packed with plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian menu offerings. Through a partnership with the Mason Campus Kitchens student group, which recovers food from the dining halls, we donate to local shelters and soup kitchens. All on-campus Sodexo units recycle plastic, glass, and aluminum waste and resident dining halls reduce food waste by using a waste pulping system. Food waste reduction efforts also extend to continually serving smaller portions in all-you-can-eat settings, trayless dining, and outreach efforts such as Weigh the Waste events. To track our progress toward long-term sustainability goals, we analyze raw data with tools such as the AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System. These and other Mason Dining sustainability initiatives are detailed on the page below.

Campus Sustainability Programs & Initiatives

The Mason Dining Team is dedicated to making Mason Dining and George Mason University a sustainable campus. With your cooperation, we can work to make differences right here on campus. We care about your concerns and encourage you to contact caitlin.lundquist@sodexo.com with questions and comments.

In addition to Sodexo’s company-wide sustainability initiatives, listed here:


Mason Dining has implemented the following programs specific to our campus:

Sustainable Seafood

As part of Sodexo’s commitment to serving sustainable seafood, Mason Dining is proud to serve 100% sustainably sourced seafood in our dining halls. Our seafood is certified by two independently operated, non-government organizations: the Aquaculture Certification Council (ACC) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent non-profit organization that offers a certification program for maintaining healthy fish stocks and reducing ecosystem impacts of fisheries for wild-caught fish.

The Aquaculture Certification Council certifies compliance with the Best Aquaculture Practices standards for social, environmental, and food safety at seafood farming facilities throughout the world. The ACC conducts site-level inspections for waste-water sampling with sanitation, therapeutic and traceability control measures. http://www.aquaculturecertification.org/

BioFuel Program

We recycle all kitchen oil waste (over 7,000 gallons annually). The oil is taken and used to create steam energy at a power plant, which helps reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Trayless Dining

We are trayless at all Mason Dining locations.


Every time a customer goes through a dining location and foregoes a tray, they save an average of one ounce of food waste. It also saves on water, time, energy, and detergent needed to wash the trays. At Southside, we save 1,500 gallons of water daily by not having to wash trays. Going trayless allows us to help the environment by reducing our ecological footprint.

Recycled Products

All of our facilities utilize 100% recycled content napkins with up to 65% Post-Consumer recycled content by fiber weight.

Food Waste Reduction

We reduce our food waste in several ways:

-Portion Control

-Rather than standard sized dinner plates, we utilize plates in smaller sizes and shapes in order to promote people being conscious of the food portions they’re taking and therefore waste less food.Through the use of these plates, we have reduced our overall food waste by 15%.

-Through the use of a SOMAT Food Waste Pulper and Dehydrator system at Southside and Ike’s, we can reduce the weight and volume of our food waste by almost 80-90%. The remaining material is an organically-potent, shredded, powdery-dry & sterile substance the makes a perfect addition to any composting or mulching effort.

Campus Kitchens

Students volunteer in our kitchen to recover pre-consumer food from our dining halls. They package the food and deliver it to people in need in our community.

For more information on Campus Kitchens or want to volunteer see link below

Check out the news story on our Campus Kitchen program! http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/340005761.html

Elimination of All Straws From Our Dining Halls

When Southside first opened, we were using 264,000 straws per year. We have eliminated the use of straws in all of our dining halls and have removed over 318 pounds of plastic from our annual waste stream.


The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS® was developed by Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), an acknowledged thought leader that advances sustainability by providing invaluable resources, with broad participation from diverse representatives of the higher education community.

The STARS reporting program for colleges and universities encompasses long-term sustainability goals for institutions. The areas in which dining services contributes to Mason’s report are:

-Local food purchasing

-Lettuce and herbs grown on campus at President’s Park Greenhouse

-Portion control measures

-Trayless dining

-Numerous vegetarian and vegan dining options available daily at our dining locations

-Meatless Mondays

-Reduced trans-fat Menus

-All napkins are made with recycled materials

-Reusable Mug discounts at Starbucks: refills cost $1.25 including tax for regular coffee

-Composting efforts at Southside

Virginia Green


“Virginia Green is Virginia’s program to encourage green practices throughout the state’s tourism industry!”
All Virginia Green participants must have programs that address these environmental impacts: recycling, waste production, energy and water conservation.
Virginia Green Recognized Buildings on campus: Southside, Pilot House.