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Food and Beverage

The following guidelines have been adapted from Simon Fraser University’s “Sustainable Spaces: Events, Vancouver Campus,” Princeton University’s “Sustainable Event Guidelines,” The International Alliance of Research Universities’ (IARU) “Green Guide for Universities,” and Healthcare Without Harm’s “Healthier Food Purchasing Standards.”


  • Avoid ordering too much food in order to prevent food waste. Discuss with the caterer the quantity of food required and when applicable, confirm exact participant numbers before placing final orders.
  • When ordering catering, request options that are healthy and lower impact (e.g., vegetarian or vegan), ethical (e.g., Fair Trade), local and in-season (to reduce the energy needed to produce, transport, and store food).
  • Prioritize plant-based food and protein options (e.g., tofu, beans, lentils, etc.).
  • Look for third-party certification labels when purchasing food products to ensure corporate responsibility (see Labels & Certifications tab for examples).
  • Emphasize quality over quantity in order to reduce overall waste.
  • Donate excess food.
  • Collect food waste for compost.



  • Provide filtered water in pitchers and consider infusing it with slices of organic fruit (“spa water”).
  • Use signage to direct people to the nearest filtered water fountain.
  • The Student Government Association has several 5 gal. water jugs available for use. To reserve them email

Drink Local

Adapted from Princeton University’s “Drink Local” webpage.

  • With more than 20 filtered water bottle-filling stations at Ramapo College, students, staff and visitors have easy access to free filtered water for their reusable water bottles and mugs.

Why Drink Local?

  • Bottled water from hundreds—or even thousands—of miles away is expensive and perpetuates our reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Laboratory testing by EWG has found all sorts of contaminants in popular brands of bottled water – disinfection byproducts, industrial chemicals, prescription drugs and even bacteria.
  • Local tap water utilities are required to test for contaminants each year and disclose the results to the public.
  • Using a refillable bottle saves both money and natural resources!

What are Bottle-Filling Stations?

  • Water bottle-filling stations provide you with filtered water from local sources.
  • Carbon-based filters are changed out regularly.


  • Use Fair Trade coffee, tea, and sugar.
  • Offer milk products carafes instead of individual single-use plastic servings.


  • Buy cold beverages in aluminum cans (water is also available in cans).
    • Unlike plastic, aluminum can be recycled an infinite number of times without any loss of quality. Nearly 75% of aluminum ever produced is still in use today. Meanwhile, 91% of plastic waste has never been recycled.1


Adapted from Healthcare Without Harm’s “Healthier Food Purchasing Standards.”


The Department of Agriculture allows the following label claims. Note that no third-party audit is required to use these claims without the process verified seal. For this reason, we strongly encourage purchasers and event planners to review the Official Listing of Approved USDA Process Verified Programs.

  • Raised without antibiotics/No antibiotics administered/No antibiotics ever/No antibiotics added (meat and poultry products)
  • Raised without added hormones/No hormones added (beef and lamb only)
  • rBGH-free/rBST-free/Our farmers pledge not to use rBGH (dairy products)


We have determined these third-party certifications and label claims to be highly meaningful. However, as the marketplace evolves, you may find new programs available. Use this list of criteria to assess programs not listed here:

  • Clearly stated principles and criteria
  • Measurable and transparent (publicly available) standards
  • Third-party verification
  • Improvements to standards as science, technology and markets evolve


  • USDA Organic (full spectrum of food and beverages)
  • Certified B Corporation (full spectrum of food and beverages)
  • Food Alliance Certified (beef, pork, lamb, poultry, dairy, eggs, shellfish, grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables, nuts, oils)
  • Non-GMO Project Verified (products containing corn, soy, canola; non-dairy milk; animal products)
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified™ (coffee, tea, cocoa/chocolate, tropical fruit, nuts, juice)
  • Fair Trade Certified™ (coffee, tea, cocoa/chocolate, sugar, grains/rice, nuts, fruit, juice, non-dairy milk)
  • Bird Friendly® (coffee)

Meat, Poultry and Dairy

  • Certified Humane® (beef, pork, lamb, turkey, broiler chicken, eggs, dairy)
  • Animal Welfare Certified Steps 1-5+ by G.A.P. (beef, pork, bison, lamb, goat, turkey, broiler chicken, eggs)
  • Animal Welfare Approved by AGW (beef, lamb, turkey, broiler chicken, eggs, dairy)
  • Certified Grassfed by AGW (products from ruminants such as beef, bison, lamb, dairy)
  • American Grassfed® Certified (products from ruminants such as beef, lamb, dairy)
  • Certified Grassfed by Food Alliance (beef, lamb, goat)


  • Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seafood Watch*, Best Choice List (wild and domestic species only)
  • Vancouver Aquarium, Ocean Wise® (wild and domestic species only)

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