Dining Services Expands Sustainable Practices

Pitt’s Dining Services offer more plant-based meals and to-go containers!

The student Grub Club has spoken: This fall, Pitt’s dining halls feature new recipes from around the globe and an expanded variety of plant-based dishes, as well as locally sourced organic chicken. And there’s an emphasis on sustainability — even in the to-go containers and bags at Pitt’s grocery spots.

The University’s food committee, nicknamed the Grub Club, brings Pitt dining managers together with as many as 100 students biweekly.

“The students tell us what we’re not doing, what they’d like to see,” said Abdou Cole, resident district manager for Pitt’s Dining Services, Sodexo. “They also give us ideas for new concepts.”

As a result, last year’s pop-up Forward Food station in Market Central, which tried out a new plant-based vegan cuisine, is now part of lunch and dinner seven days a week.

“Plant-based dining is a culinary trend that has become very popular and it’s just going to increase over the next few years,” said chef Chris Cox.

Because the Office of the Provost has declared this academic year the Year of Healthy U, Pitt dining also has expanded its “mindful” offerings. These are lighter meal selections in smaller portions, using whole grains and other plants as well as lean meats. Offerings include lentil salad with citrus vinaigrette, mushroom chili, quinoa tabbouleh and lime-infused black bean and corn salad.

Pitt’s fresh chicken dishes will now use birds raised on a vegetarian diet free of antibiotics and growth hormones on a farm in Kidron, Ohio, just two hours from campus.

“We’re doing this to provide a healthier option,” said Cox. Plus, he added, “the taste is amazing.”