Local and Sustainable Food : University Dining Services

Office of Student Life

Dining Services

Local and Sustainable Food


  • We are working very hard every day towards the University's goal of reaching 40% Local and Sustainable food by year 2025.

  • The Office of Student Life Dining Services works with CFAES to procure beef, pork and produce grown on our campus farms. This year we will be planting three acres of vegetable gardens on Waterman farm.

  • Nearly 100% of our fresh chickens come from local farms in Wayne County. Majority of the farms are Amish owned.

  • We received recognition in 2016 for distributing over 60,000 meals to Mid-Ohio food bank. We also work with OSU food pantry dedicated to students with food security concerns.

  • Majority of our liquid dairy (approximately 85%) come from local dairy farms. See map of dairy farm locations here. We support over 200 dairy farms in Ohio.



If you had chicken in your sandwich, salad or soup for lunch at a campus dining services location recently, be assured that you had an Ohio-based meal. 

The university gets all of their chicken for the Columbus campus fresh from Gerber Poultry in Kidron, Ohio. More than 140 farmers within a 50-mile radius of Gerber supply chicken to the northeast Ohio processing facility. And Northern Haserot, a Cleveland-based foodservice company, distributes the chicken to Ohio State after Gerber processes it. 

Dining Services works to incorporate sustainability not only through the support of local farmers and local businesses, but throughout its own organization. 

Many variables come into play in defining an entire food system like the farm-to-plate path of the meals served to students. The university uses approximately 60,000 pounds of chicken each month, so in this case using a larger company in the food cycle is more economical and provides the opportunity to create more jobs at a local site. However, in other cases, supporting a small business works better. Dining Services is exploring the feasibility of growing produce here on campus and using single farms for some supply. 


When ten Student Life Dining Services chefs tried a new blend burger of half mushroom and half beef, half of them preferred the blend burger over the traditional burger. But only one knew the blend burger contained mushroom. 

After making the decision to serve students the blend burgers, Dining Services tested them for about six months, training the chefs to cook them correctly and introducing the burger slowly so students didn't respond negatively to the change. 

Last fall, the blend burgers won the spot as the only burger option in the three Traditions dining locations, and Dining Services received fewer than 10 complaints. Sales from the blend burgers are proportionate to that of traditional burgers in other student dining locations. 

Dining Services is in the midst of tracking the origin of all served food with its suppliers. It has been determined that 50 percent of the blend burgers - the beef portion - originates with Ohio farmers. Efforts are still underway to determine the sourcing of the mushrooms. 


Got Milk? Buckeyes Do.

How much milk does it it take to quench the dairy thirst of Ohio State's Columbus campus? About 13,000 gallons every month. And most of that milk comes from Ohio farmers. Student Life Dining Services is tracing the university's liquid dairy products to find out where it originates before it reaches campus.

After Ohio farmers draw the milk, Dairymens, founded in Cleveland in 1923, pasteurizes and packages it at its Cincinnati plant. Then US Foods' distribution center in Cincinnati transports the milk to campus. 

Because of the complexity of dairy food systems, tracing the food sourcing is no small endeavor.