Our Initiatives

Marist Dining Services is committed to environmental stewardship by integrating awareness, local action, and regional and global thinking into planning and decision making. In light of this responsibility, Marist Dining incorporates, to the extent possible, best practices in food sourcing, waste minimization, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Marist Dining proudly purchases within a 200-mile radius, including beef, pork and poultry, which has established valuable and sustainable partnerships with local farmers and growers. 

Marist Dining Services reports to the Division of Student Affairs and is managed by Sodexo, the leading provider of integrated food and facilities management in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. 

A Better Tomorrow

From purchasing local seasonal produce whenever possible to reducing inorganic and organic waste, your campus team is dedicated to providing you with an exceptional dining experience that is good for you and good for the planet.

This commitment was formalized with Sodexo's Better Tomorrow Plan. The Better Tomorrow Plan includes 18 commitments for a brighter future by focusing on four key priorities: health, planet, community and our people. Learn more about the Better Tomorrow Commitments.

Local Sourcing

Buying local and regional foods within 200 miles of the Marist campus is a top priority. Of the total food purchased for the Marist Dining Services program, over 50% is locally and regionally sourced. Marist Dining sources pasture-raised beef, pork, poultry, fruits, dairy and vegetables from a variety of local farms. This reduces energy consumption, shipping waste and greenhouse emissions, while increasing local employment and the vitality of our Hudson Valley farms and community. 

Local and regional partners include:

Hudson Valley Fresh Milk in the Dining Hall 

Dining Services stocks only Hudson Valley Fresh (HVF) milk in the Dining Hall. Hudson Valley Fresh is a not-for-profit dairy cooperative dedicated to preserving the agricultural heritage of the Hudson River Valley by promoting it as one of the premier farming regions of the United States. HVF’s mission is to secure a living wage for the farmers and their families who are part of the HVF cooperative. By ensuring a fair price for their dairy products, more local farmers are kept in the business of farming, which means preventing the loss of their land to development. Hudson Valley Fresh cooperative farms are currently preserving 8,000 acres of open land within the Hudson Valley. Hudson Valley Fresh milk is sourced solely from farms located in Dutchess, Columbia and Ulster Counties of New York State. These farms are all within 20 miles of each other and the processing plant. All HVF dairy products are processed at Boice Brothers Dairy in Kingston, NY. HVF milk is the only milk processed at this facility, and it is never co-mingled with milk from other farms or regions, thus guaranteeing its the quality of HVF products. Using a local processing facility also supports local employment, increases creative commerce and entrepreneurship, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions due to product transportation. Hudson Valley Fresh cooperative farms have won the National Dairy Quality Award and NYS Environmental Stewardship Award, as well as other commendations and certificates of best practices. 

Ronnybrook Milk in Campus Retail Locations

Located less than 40 miles from Marist College, Ronnybrook Dairy Farm supplies campus retail locations with fresh milk daily. The Ronnybrook family has been in business for over 70 years and they manage every phase of milk production - from farm to the cows to the bottling plant - with no third parties involved. Ronnybrook cows enjoy the comfort of cow stalls with individual mattresses and daily pasture access. Ronnybrook does not use pesticides on their fields and instead use cropping techniques that promote healthy soil. Their products are tested daily by state certified and licensed staff for antibiotics and other impurities to ensure that all their products are as wholesome and healthful as possible. 


Marist Dining’s sustainability efforts also feature an oil recycling process through Restaurant Technologies’ Fresh Oil Tank Black Box Digital Display. The Black Box records how much cooking oil is being used and tracks this information for an online report of Total Oil Management, also known as TOM. This process allows Restaurant Technologies to fully take care of the delivery of new oil and the tracking, pickup, and recycling of used oil. The used cooking oil is dispensed into its own tank, and is drained and recorded separately. It is then picked up by Restaurant Technologies and transported to a separate location in which it is recycled into biodiesel, allowing for easier and more eco-friendly cooking oil removal and grease recycling.

Saving Energy / Reducing Carbon

Green design best practices, new equipment and system upgrades have reduced our energy consumption and carbon footprint. Our dishwasher uses less water and less electricity for every wash, rinse and sanitizer cycle. Ovens, kitchen equipment, walk-in coolers and freezers are all energy efficient model designs consuming less electricity.

A green roof, super insulated windows, LED lighting and energy efficient heating units within the Student Center have decreased the Dining Hall's energy consumption despite an increase in overall seating capacity.

In 2006, Marist College Dining initiated a successful kitchen and dining hall food waste composting program. In 2013, Marist College Dining Services transitioned to an on-campus food waste digester solution. The food waste digester system is with EnviroPure Systems, a company dedicated to providing a use for food waste. EnviroPure Systems is a hyper-accelerated food decomposition system that allows for the transformation of organic kitchen production and dining room food waste into environmentally safe grey water in less than 24 hours. This on-site breakdown and removal of food waste is possible through a combination of continuous mechanical processing, tightly controlled aerobic decomposition and a proprietary micronutrient additive. 

In 2019, the North End Dining facility was certified as a 2 Star Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA). The GRA is a nationwide organization that works with restaurants, manufacturers, and distributors all across America and Canada to help the restaurant industry go green. This certification demonstrates that Marist Dining has made great strides in greening its processes, especially, though not exclusively, recycling, composting and the elimination of polystyrene foam. In the future, North End Dining will strive to achieve the highest level of certification, 4 stars. View North End Dining's profile on the Green Restaurant Association's platform here.

Reducing Food Waste

Did you know that 40% of food produced in the U.S. is wasted? Food waste reduction protects arable land, decreases water usage, conserves resources and saves money. At Marist College, Dining Services is reducing food waste in a number of ways.

Marist Dining has limited the number of serve-yourself stations in an effort to reduce waste from over-portioning. Our cook-to-order stations result in serving efficiency, preventing excess food production. Additionally, expanding the variety of offerings at every meal increases satisfaction with our tray-less dining initiative, begun in 2009, which reduces food waste, water usage and energy consumption. Marist’s dishwasher system is eco-friendly, designed to use less water and electricity.

Marist Dining also integrated the weigh-the-waste LeanPath program in 2010, which improved production management by pinpointing foods that are being overproduced. The analysis of the problem has allowed us to improve food preparation efficiencies. The LeanPath Program is dedicated to preventing food waste by following a 4-step process: measure, analyze, optimize, empower. The LeanPath program begins by automatically tracking food waste with a scale and integrated camera. Then, it allows for a complete view of the food waste and its financial impact via online dashboard and reports. Next, the LeanPath program sends automated alerts and real-time recommendations for goal setting so Marist Dining can set and achieve our sustainability goals. The process ends with empowerment, as this knowledge inspires the continual minimization of waste across campus. This weight tracking technology allows for quick, clear, and precise data about the school’s sustainability successes.

Marist also takes into account other waste that may not be suitable for the EnviroPure machine. At the conclusion of each meal, if there are remaining food portions, those are donated to the local Poughkeepsie community through the student led Marist chapter of Food Recovery Network. The Food Recovery Network, known as the FRN, is an organization dedicated to uniting college campuses in the fight against food waste and hunger by recovering perishable food that would otherwise go to waste and donating it to people in need. The Marist FRN chapter was founded in the Fall 2015 semester and has donated food to Dutchess Outreach and Youth Mission Outreach in the city of Poughkeepsie since its inception. Watch Marist College's Food Recovery Network Chapter in action. 

In 2019, Marist Dining Services partnered with FeedHV.org, a non-profit organization that works with community volunteers to rescue, harvest, process and distribute recoverable food to the local community. FeedHV is powered by ChowMatch, the FeedHV app that uses a matching process to link Marist Dining Services, volunteers, and feeding programs geographically. 

Protecting Our Environment

Practicing environmental stewardship requires action through a variety of initiatives. Our operation purchases Red's Best seafood products to support sustainable fishing practices and protect the health of our oceans. Red's Best is a Boston-based seafood wholesaler that leads the industry in affordable, accessible, wild-caught American seafood. Red's Best uses a traceability software allows students to trace their seafood back to over 1000 small American community based boats. By purchasing from Red's Best Marist Dining is sustaining fisheries for harvest while reducing our carbon footprint while also supporting the livelihoods of American fisherman and their families. 

Our Hydration Station encourages the use of reusable water bottles, decreasing reliance on disposable bottles that consume limited resources and add to landfills. Students are encouraged to bring reusable cups to retail cafes by receiving a 25 cent discount per drink. Zero-waste catering events are promoted through the use of china, Eco-Ware compostable products and sustainable event planning.

Using Fair Trade Products

Fair Trade commerce helps improve the lives of subsistence farmers and their families by guaranteeing a minimum price for small farm harvests, and encouraging organic and sustainable cultivation methods that are safer for communities, as well as the environment. 

The cultivation of coffee, in particular, has become an issue with both environmental and human rights implications. The Dining Hall serves Aspretto by Sodexo coffee. This coffee is guaranteed to be 100% Fair Trade and Rain Forest Alliance LTO compliant. Serve Aspretto Numi Organic Teas. All of the tea blends are certified organic and ethically sourced. Six of the eight Numi varieties are also certified Fair Trade teas by Transfair USA. Our retail dining locations on campus also serve Fair Trade blends of Seattle's Best and Starbucks coffees. 

In 2019, Marist Dining partnered with North River Roasters (NRR), a local coffee roaster based in Poughkeepsie, NY, to bring single-origin, Fair Trade and organic coffee beans to Steel Plant Garden Cafe. North River Roasters prides itself in making high quality, locally roasted coffee available to those who want to know where their coffee came from and how it was made. NRR specializes in mico-roasting in small batches to ensure freshness and flavor. By purchasing from NRR, Marist Dining supports small cooperatives of farmers from around the world in countries such as Uganda, Colombia and East Timor to support their livelihoods.

Marist Dining also serves Fair Trade bananas across all operations on campus.