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  • Sadie Rogerson

Cool Food Meals: Program Overview

At the beginning of the Spring semester, UVA Dine launched the Cool Food Meals program in dining halls. This program ties into the University’s ongoing commitment to greater sustainability and goal of carbon neutrality by 2030 as well as Aramark’s organizational goal to halve emissions before 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions before 2050. Cool Food Meals is an initiative by the World Resource Institute (WRI) to help companies identify, badge, and market meals that are better for the climate. Aramark has partnered with WRI to bring this program to UVA as well as 9 other U.S.-based universities.

What are Cool Food Meals?

Using an ingredient list, WRI calculates a dish’s carbon footprint by analyzing the agricultural supply chain and land used to produce the meal. If the meal’s carbon footprint falls below an established per-meal threshold (3.59 kg CO2e/portion for breakfasts and 5.38 kg COpe/portion for lunches and dinners in the United States) and meets nutritional standards, it is certified as a “Cool Food Meal.” Meals labeled with the Cool Food Meals badge have a low carbon footprint, already meeting the level of food-related emissions the WRI’s research indicates meals need to have by 2030. At UVA, Cool Food Meals will be available at the Dish at Observatory Hill and Fresh Food Company at Newcomb Hall.

The Connection Between What We Eat and Environmental Sustainability

The food we eat has an impact on the environment and how food is produced contributes to climate change. Animal-based foods account for two-thirds of agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions, so consistently consuming plant-forward meals is a good way of reducing negative impacts on climate. Next time you are at a dining hall, consider choosing a meal with the Cool Food Meals badge to support a more sustainable way of eating!.


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