University of Reading – Sustainable Food Policy and Framework

What is Sustainable Food?

The Sustainable Development Commission describes sustainable food as food and drink that:

How is the University working to achieving this?

The University of Reading has extensive activity within food and drink, from its farms, The National Fruit Collection, teaching and research in both Agriculture and Food Sciences as well as an extensive Catering operation. As a self-funded service of the University, we are committed to consistent improvement around sustainability in a manner that is financially sustainable to allow us to continue to invest in this area. We appreciate and understand that different individuals and groups have different interpretations and views on how to achieve this, so we try to be open and transparent on our progress, to encourage conversation and debate.

The outlets and services covered by this policy are, Agriculture Café, Architecture Café, Before and After, Café No. 1, Eat at the Square, Enterprise Café, Greenlands Catering, Greenlands Bar, HBS Café – Whiteknights, Health and Life Sciences Café, Hospitality Services, Ice House, Library Café, Northcourt Bar, Park Bar, Park Eat, Park House, Park Market, Roastology, SportsPark Café, St. Patrick’s Dining, The Dairy, The Market Place, Wantage Bar and Wantage Dining.

This document is a living document of both completed actions and those in progress so will be updated on a regular basis.


Section 1 – Food and Drink that is safe, healthy and nutritious, for consumers in shops, restaurants, schools, Universities etcetera

Things we have done or are doing;

1.1.1 The University follows the principles of Menus of Change focussing on a range of topics including reducing meat consumption, dairy products, more vegetables etcetera. Full details are here and below. This is a leading principle of how we achieve sustainable food.

1.1.2 Between May 2019 and March 2020, a team of talented professional chefs has been put in place at Dining locations as part of the University’s focus on cooking nutritious and delicious food rather than processed foods.

1.1.43Adoption of two vegetarian wholesalers, providing a wider range of vegan and vegetarian products, while reducing overall meat use per dish through the addition of items such as lentils in sauces

1.1.4 All outlets currently rate five stars for food hygiene –

1.1.5 Shift in procurement from Highly Processed Foods towards scratch items in our dining locations.

1.1.6 Dolchevita, an on-site Café, is entirely vegetarian. Our Park Market, is majority supplied by Suma Wholefoods, a vegetarian co-operative wholesaler.

1.1.7 Monosodium glutamate (MSG) or E621 is prohibited

1.1.8 Genetically Modified ingredients are prohibited.

Things we are working on;

1.2.1    Removing any highly processed ingredients used within the cooking process as menus are updated.

1.2.2    Reducing the number of deep-fat fryers across campus and switching to alternative options.

A photo of a student with a reusable coffee cup

Section 2 – Food and Drink that provides a viable livelihood for farmers, processors and retailers, whose employees enjoy a safe and hygienic working environment whether in the UK or overseas

Things we have done or are doing;

2.1.1    The University is Fairtrade Certified and, in line with all Universities, is working towards achieving the new Fairtrade Certification Standard.

2.1.2    All non-student staff working within Catering operations are on a permanent contract with specified hours such as 36 hours (full-time) or 15 hours with no zero-hour contracts in place. All members of non-student staff are directly employed by the University of Reading.

2.1.3    A significant number of products carried that are Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, Cocoa Life or similar accreditation.

2.1.4    An increasing number of suppliers are certified B Corps and Co-operatives.

2.1.5    Suppliers are asked to meet the standards set out in this document during tender stage and demonstrate how they can further support and advance the objectives of Sustainable Food shown above. See suppliers section.

2.1.6    Training is provided to all staff around sustainable practices and our cooking teams receive further training on creating menus that have a lower impact on the environment

2.1.7    TUCO – and NACUFS – both provide our teams with further training and insights to develop teams.

2.1.8    We are owned and operated by the University who offer our permanent staff excellent benefits.

2.1.9    We currently provide employment to 450 students across campus within our Catering operations.

Things we are working on;

2.2.1    Improving supply chains to improve worker standards.

Student shopping at Park Eat marketplace

Section 3 – Food and Drink that respects biophysical and environmental limits in its production and processing, while reducing energy consumption and improving the wider environment

What are doing or have done

3.1.1    The University is registered with MSC through TUCO and our chain of custody number is MSC-C-53312. All fresh fish served by the University is MSC or ASC certified.

3.1.2    Our Greenlands site uses an aerobic digester to turn waste food to compost for use around the grounds.

3.1.3    The following sites use entirely renewable energy for cooking; Park Eat, Hospitality Kitchen, Greenlands.

3.1.4    Park Eat uses Air-Source Heat Pumps to provide heat from the outside air to heat the building.

3.1.5    The majority of lighting across our outlets has been switched to LED lighting.

3.1.6    All electricity used is from renewable sources

3.1.7    During Academic Year 2018/19 our recycling rates were;

Waste Stream Total Weight % by weight
Dry Mixed Recycling 23,750kg  8.6%
Cardboard 31,243kg 11.3%
Glass 35,375kg 12.8%
Food Waste 59,063kg 21.5%
Cooking Oil 8,706kg 3.2%
General Waste 117,214kg  42.6%
TOTAL 275,351kg 100%

            This data covers Campus Commerce outlets at Eat at the Square, Park House, Wantage Bar & Catering, The Dairy, Park Eat, Greenlands, Dolchevita, St. Patrick’s, Sherfield and Ice House only. Other outlets use shared bins.

            Paper Cup recycling totalled 200kg. No waste goes to landfill.

3.1.8    In 2018 the University introduced Coca-Cola Freestyle as part of a reusable bottle system allowing use to significantly reduce the number of plastic bottles being transported onto Campus and consumed on campus. To date the system has saved around 250,000 bottles of water

3.1.9    In September 2019, Frank the Barista, an innovative Coffee scheme was introduced offering significant discounts to those using a University reusable Cup. This has avoided 174,000 paper cups between 1st August 2018 and 31st July 2019.

3.1.10  The Grab and Go range made in-house for The Dairy, Wantage, Park Eat and Eat at the Square, is packaged in entirely plastic-free packaging that is also compostable.

3.1.11  The Choose to Reuse Meal Box scheme was introduced in September 2018, allowing customers to opt to use a reusable takeaway box that can be returned for washing to a number of outlets, where a clean one is given out.

3.1.12  All Water is sold in either packaging made from 100% recycled plastic (rPET) or aluminium cans. A hydration map of campus is also available showing where water can be found free of charge.

3.1.13  Reusable containers, delivery trays and boxes are currently being used by a number of suppliers including butchery, fruit and vegetables, wholefoods and beer & cider.

3.1.14  The following sites use closed-fronted display fridges; The Dairy, Park Eat (1 fridge closed, 1 fridge open), Eat at the Square, Dolchevita, Architecture.

3.1.15  Our bar cellar systems have been moved to in-line cooling reducing the energy required to keep drinks cold and offering significant improvements on energy efficiency. We are currently on the second generation of system after testing an earlier system for a third party in 2015.

3.1.16  Eat at the Square, Park House, The Market Place and Roastology switched to enzyme-based cleaning products rather than traditional cleaning chemicals. The following sites are now scheduled to switch across in 2020 – The Dairy, Wantage Dining, Wantage Bar, Northcourt Bar, Ice House, Park Eat, Park Bar, Park Market and St. Patrick’s Dining.

3.1.17  Up to 17 students are feed free of charge through our Eating Plan system allowing us to use food that would go to waste, to be used for a better purpose.

3.1.18 Infrared taps in following back of house Kitchen areas; Hospitality Kitchen, Wantage, Park Eat, The Dairy, Eat at the Square, Park House

3.1.19 Infrared taps in customer areas at the following sites; Park Eat, The Dairy.

3.1.20 Greenlands, Park Eat, Eat at the Square, Wantage, St. Patrick’s and the Dairy use automatic dishwashers with waste water and heat recovery systems.

3.1.21 Zero Waste Stations for dried food and other ingredients plus cleaning chemicals are available at Park Market and the Market Place.

3.1.22  Plastic straws are banned and have been replaced with Turtle Straws, made from natural straw.

3.1.23  We will purchase the most efficient appliance within it’s category, of the correct size and capacity, when replacing equipment.

3.1.24  A local levy

What we are working towards

3.2.1    The following sites are working towards removing natural gas for cooking. The number is brackets is total number of appliances remaining that use natural gas for cooking. Eat at the Square (2), Park House (1), The Dairy (2), St. Patrick’s (5), Wantage (4).

3.2.2    Removal of single use plastics in process of cooking foods e.g. Cling Film

3.2.3    Removal of single use plastic pint glasses at Park Eat Bar, through modifications to back of house areas to allow washing up of glassware on a large scale.

3.2.4    Introduction of a porcelain mug compatible with Frank the Barista system allowing the complete removal of paper cups for hot drinks.

3.2.5    Introduction of a paper cup for external bar events where glass and polycarbonate cups aren’t a practical solution or a rental system that includes washing, where possible.

3.2.6    Doors on open fronted fridges at the Library (2), Agriculture (1), Before and After (1), Enterprise (1), Park Eat (1), TVSP (1), SportsPark (1), Wantage (3).

3.2.7    Switch our fleet of five vehicles to electric based. Currently all diesel, in part due to the requirements for refrigeration (4 vehicles) and due to need for four-wheel drive to keep services operating during poor weather situations and towing trailers (1 vehicle).

3.2.8    Aim to be carbon positive in our daily operations through generation of renewable power on suitable sites.

3.2.9    Wrap Food Waste Road Map implementation.

3.2.10  Displaying Carbon Footprint information on menus

3.2.11  Smart Controls on Kitchen Ventilation Systems

3.2.12  Installation of Infrared taps in customer areas at Eat at the Square, St. Patrick’s, Park House.

3.2.13  Infrared taps in back of house areas at St. Patrick’s Dining.

3.2.14  Growing of fruit, herbs and vegetables on campus in a financially sustainable manner.

A photo of dispensing units for rice and lentils

Section 4 – Food and Drink that respects the highest standards of animal health and welfare, compatible with the production of affordable food for all sectors of society

What have we done or are doing;

4.1.1    The University uses solely free-range eggs and currently purchases these locally from Beechwood Farm. Egg based products such as mayonnaise are free-range.

4.1.2    The University is committed to reducing overall quantity of meat served per serving, while increasing the quality and animal welfare standard.

4.1.3    All fresh, raw meat is sourced from UK Farms.

4.1.4    Fresh farmed fish is ASC and fresh wild caught fish is MSC accredited.

4.1.5    The majority of beef is sourced from our own farms, including cattle involved in grassland and meadow restoration projects.

4.1.6    Purchase and serving of foie gras, Kopi Lauak Coffee amongst others are prohibited

What we are working towards

4.2.1    All meat sourced from external sources certified free-range or RSPCA Assured as a minimum.

4.2.2    Exploring certification for Food for Life

4.2.3    Frozen buffet items are being worked on to ensure compliance with ASC, MSC and Welfare Standards

A photo of Park Eat marketplace items

Section 5 – Food or Drink that supports rural economies and the diversity of rural culture, in particular through an emphasis on local products that keep food miles to a minimum.

NB Our definition of local is products and produce from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire. Regional includes Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Surrey & West Sussex. The University is spread across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

5.1.1    Our farms provide the majority of raw beef used in our cookery as well as fruit from our own farms.

5.1.2    We have direct relationships with a number of local and regional suppliers that deliver, produce and/or supply alcoholic drinks;

– Ascot Brewing, Camberley, Surrey

– Binghams Brewery, Ruscombe, Berkshire

– Chiltern Wines, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

– Double-Barrelled, Reading, Berkshire

– Elusive Brewing, Finchampstead, Berkshire

– Fevertree, Shepperton Mallet, Somerset

– Loddon, Dunsden Green, Oxfordshire

– Loose Cannon, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

– Lovibonds, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

– Phantom Brewing, Reading, Berkshire

– Rebellion Brewery, Marlow, Buckinghamshire

– Reunion Ales, Feltham, West London

– Siren Craft Brewery, Finchampstead, Berkshire

– SH Jones, Oxford

– Tap Social Movement, Oxford, Oxfordshire

– Tutts Clump Cider, Bradfield, West Berkshire

– West Berkshire Brewery, Yattendon, Berkshire

– Wild Weather Ales, Aldermaston Berkshire

– Windsor & Eton, Windsor, Berkshire

– XT Brewing, Thame, Oxfordshire

5.1.3    We have direct and indirect relationships with a number of local and regional suppliers that deliver, produce and/or supply food;

– Beechwood Eggs, Thatcham, Berkshire

– Cotswold Fayre, Theale, Berkshire

– Warings Bakery, Spencers Wood, Berkshire

– Hobbs Bakery, Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire

– Bug Amusements, Shiplake, Berkshire

– Jungs Bakery, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire

– University of Reading Farms, Sonning and Shinfield, Berkshire

– Phil Bodwitch, Marlow, Buckinghamshire

– Snaffling Pig, Ashampstead Common, Berkshire

– Solent Butchers, Portsmouth, Hampshire

– Clarks (Wantage) t/a Wessex Mill, Wantage, Oxfordshire

– West Horsley Dairy, Lightwater, Surrey

– Coco Loco, Horsham, West Sussex

– Cotswold Fudge Company, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire

5.1.4    Our menus reflect seasonality with an emphasis on produce from the British Isles and all fresh, raw meat being sourced from the UK. Where items come from abroad, we seek to source from the closest, lowest-carbon source, e.g. Spanish Orange Juice rather than South Africa, Soya from the US and Canada rather than Brazil or UK Grown Sugar rather than the Caribbean.

5.1.5    We encourage and support local businesses attempting to tender for contracts

Working Towards

5.2.1    Increasing the amount of food coming from our own farms

5.2.2    Source milk from University Farms

5.2.3    Investigating further sources of local food

5.2.4    Increase the use of seasonal food

6. Suppliers

We view this document as a base line of the standards we are currently achieving and through competitive tender processes want to partner with suppliers that share our desire to improve and elevate standards.

During tender processes please explain how you are able to continue to help us improve during the contract period, for example, using returnable packaging or delivery trays, removing/reducing single use plastic etc.

7. Prohibited Items

7.1       The following products are prohibited within our operations

This list only covers items that are legally saleable and is not exhaustive. Items that are illegal, we cannot sell, so are not listed.

7.2       The following products require caution when being used by our team

Document Owners – Heads of Catering; Review Quarterly. Last reviewed –

Approval Route – Director of Campus Commerce; Approval Annually. Last Approved –