Food & Catering

The University is committed to delivering sustainable and nutritious food to all students, staff and customers to all our campus outlets. These commitments are mirrored by the Students’ Union within their shops and cafes. Our Sustainable Food and Fairtrade Policies outline our ambitions on the food on offer whilst taking action to ensure those producing the ingredients are treated fairly. Sales data is monitored, and the policies are reviewed annually via the Sustainable Food Steering Group, reporting progress to the Sustainability Management Board.

Awards & Accreditations

  • An accredited Fairtrade University from 2011 to 2019 and are working towards reaccreditation following the new audit system in 2022.
  • Since 2015 all our catering outlets and menus have been Food for Life Gold.
  • Since 2014 our outlets have only provided MSC certified fish meals.
  • Multiple student projects have been commended at the Green Gown Awards in the Food & Drink Category.
  • Click here to find out more about these achievements.

We also seek to use our buying power as a University to support local producers and businesses (& case study) through working with our catering suppliers (BaxterStorey, Sodexo and The Student’s Union).

  • Reusable Coffee cup poster
  • Disposable free cafe poster

The Café Experience

No two cafes are alike at Greenwich, but you will notice some familiar choices, messages and sustainable initiatives:

All of our outlets offer a discount when you bring your own reusable cup. Our reusable cup sales have increased by 5% as of March 2020, but this still only accounts for 20% of all sales.

2.5 billion disposable cups are thrown every year. To combat this concern, two of our cafes (Queen Mary in Greenwich and Pilkington in Medway) have gone disposable cup free! Read about their journeys here.

Please remember to always bring your reusable cup. Keep an eye out for these posters.

If you don’t have your own cup, do not worry, there is a variety to choose from at each outlet! Only £2.95. A couple of students also created an innovative idea, The Reuse Race in 2018, whereby the more sales in reusable cups, the bigger discounts for the collective. We are looking to make this permanent.

Don’t forget to check around the café, you may come across a small small signposted tray with bags of coffee grounds. Coffee grounds make excellent fertiliser for gardens, so please do take a bag or two. You can add the grounds to a compost bin or directly into the soil, and they can even help to keep the slugs and snails away. It may not seem much, but hundreds of bags will be used over the year, so this saves on waste and helps you to go organic in the garden.

If you fancy some water instead, then please do make use of the free water stations found in the outlets. There are also water fountains around the campuses (Greenwich:  Stockwell Street Library, Dreadnought, and Lower Deck. Medway: Pembroke cafe, three in Drill Hall Library, one  in the Medway sports hall reception area, 1 in Pilkington café seating area.  Avery Hill: Dome Gym, David Fussey Sports Hall Reception) We also sell Greenwich water bottles in all outlets, so you can fill up and go!

For food, remember that we sell Fairtrade items. These will be labelled so please do keep a look out. Outlets also have 50% non-meat meals, in addition to using organic milk. Fish dishes are all MSC certified, and for meat 50% is either RSPCA Assured or Soil Association, which means better conditions for the animal.

All tea, coffee and bananas are Fairtrade. We still have areas to improve, and are working hard to increase the used of reusable cups and decreasing the water bottle sales, but we hope you agree that it has been positive steps so far.  Check out our annual Fairtrade Fortnight highlights, our events to illustrate the importance of treating farmers fairly. A case study of sustainable improvements made at one of our outlets, The Dome (Avery Hill) can be found here.

It is important to ensure we work with the best partners to deliver the most sustainable food that we can. To help this we have strict procurement requirements when we retender our catering contract (this was last retendered in May-July 2021). Our Invitation to tender requires: The Contractor/ Partner will as a minimum:

  • Re-accreditation with Food for Life Gold within 3 months of contract start date.
  • Commit to the university Sustainable Food Policy, Sustainability Policy, Fairtrade Policy, Carbon Management Plan from contract start date.

Every three months we meet with catering partners, key UoG staff including the sustainability team and student representatives to ensure that progress against the our Sustainable Food and Fairtrade Strategies are being met and ensure that progress is reported via our Sustainability Management Board and review. Catering is within the scope of our Environmental Management System and our caters on site operations and progress against Policy targets are audited.

Avery Hill Community Garden & other Grow Spaces

You can ‘grow your own’ at Avery Hill’s Southwood Site Community Edible Garden. Students and staff and welcome to volunteer and learn how to grow fruit and veg, make friends get some exercise and fresh air. Interested? –  Follow this link for more information.

Our Stockwell Street building also has large fruit and vegetable gardens that are tended to by students and staff and is part of our wider urban agriculture research.

Catering staff are utilising raised beds at the lower campus in Medway to grow fresh herbs that are included in their delicious home made dishes.

We have beehives at all campuses with Avery Hill campus produced honey for sale at the Village Shop.

Look out for our orchard planted through support by the Orchard Project. It’s located across from the Edible Garden (below the tennis courts). Visit from July when the apple and pear and other fruits begin ripening. If you are interested in learning how to prune orchard trees then get in touch.

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For more information on sustainable food at the University please contact the group through sustainability@gre.ac.uk

food logos

Meat vs CO2 poster

The Carbon Footprint of Food

Global meat consumption has risen by 600% since the 1950s compared with a 160% population increase.

A study carried out by Oxford University’s department of public health found that eating meat no more than three times a week could prevent 31,000 deaths from heart disease, 9,000 deaths from cancer and 5,000 deaths from stroke, as well as save the NHS £1.2 billion in costs each year.

Cutting down on meat consumption can bring huge environmental benefits. Why not try a meat-free Monday, or any day a week, and even that one portion will make a difference.

If someone eating more than 100 grams of meat a day simply cut down to less than 50 grams a day, their food-related emissions would fall by a third. That would save almost a tonne of CO2 each year, about as much as an economy return flight between London and New York.

Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25795-going-vegetarian-halves-co2-emissions-from-your-food/#ixzz6zv71Vknz

This makes up part of our Make Your Change initiative.

University of Greenwich Sustainability Blog