Our Food and Nutrition Services team understands the importance of healthy food to our patients’ health and the impact food purchasing can have on the environment. We use a data-driven approach paired with consumer preferences and the healthiest options available to meet sustainability goals, ensure minimization of food waste, and feed happy customers.
Per the UC Sustainable Practice Policy, UCLA Health must procure 25% sustainable food products by the year 2025 as defined by AASHE STARS. At UCLA Health, we procured 23.7% sustainable food products in Fiscal Year 2022, and we are well on our way to achieve our goal.
UCLA Health has increased plant-based food procurement in an effort to decrease the greenhouse gas emissions from animal-based products and provide more options to our patrons. In fiscal year 2022, 32% of UCLA Health’s protein purchases were plant-based.
UCLA Health Dining Services’ vegan and vegetarian options have expanded beyond Meatless Mondays. The Food Services and Nutrition team has implemented Beyond Meat vegan burgers, Gardein chicken strips, and plant-forward entrees – with more options and meals underway. We also provide vegan patient menus to encourage our patients to both eat healthy and address the environmental impact of their food choices.
Why Plant Based?
Plants have essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that keep your cells healthy and your immune system in balance. Further, the production of animal products like beef and dairy generate 90% more greenhouse gases than plant-based alternatives! Just one plant-based meal can save the amount of carbon emissions it takes to drive a car across the United States.
Antibiotic Free Meat
75% of the beef and poultry we purchase are raised without antibiotics. For humans, eating meat without antibiotics is an important to fight against antibiotic resistance. Increasing our antibiotic-free meat is a promising step toward feeding guests sustainable, healthy food.
UCLA Health is committed to reducing and eliminating single use plastics in line with the University of California’s and the State of California’s Zero Waste goals and in recognition of the sever environmental impact single-use products have globally.
UCLA Health has eliminated plastic bags in retail and foodservice establishments as of 2021 and has replaced plastic foodware accessories with compostables. We are partnering with our beverage vendors and academic campus to reduce and eliminate plastic beverage bottles.
Further, the food and nutrition services team encourages patrons to bring reusable coffee mugs by offering a discount on coffee beverage purchases with refillable mugs. We also give reusable mugs to all of our new hires and they are available for purchase in all of our dining commons.
UCLA Health offers collection receptacles for recycling and composting inside and outside of our dining facilities. Our cutlery, bowls, plates, napkins, cups, lids, and straws are all compostable. It is important for all of our staff and visitors to follow the guidance provided on our signage to ensure minimal contamination in both of these streams that are sorted by our waste hauler.
Cool Food Pledge
UCLA Health also signed on to the “Cool Food Pledge.” Pledge members commit to a target of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) associated with the food they serve by my 25% by 2030 relative to a 2015 baseline. We report food purchase amounts by weight each year, including all animal-based foods, as well as plant proteins, which make up around 80-90% of our food-related greenhouse gas emissions.