Kennesaw State’s Commons among nation’s top sustainable university dining facilities

Dining Hall exterior

Outreach and education efforts garners national award KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug. 3, 2012) —Kennesaw…

Georgia (Aug 3, 2012)Outreach and education efforts garners national award

KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug. 3, 2012) —Kennesaw State’s dining facility, The Commons, joined Stanford and the University of Massachusetts in receiving the tops honors awarded by the National Association of College and Food Services (NACUFS) for sustainability outreach and education. 

The 2012 bronze medal award, presented July 12 in Boston, recognized The Commons’ Sustainable Food Program, which includes the farm-to-campus initiative it launched in 2010. 

NACUFS presented gold, silver or bronze medals in five categories to 14 institutions nationwide.

“We’re extremely pleased that NACUFS has recognized our unwavering efforts to incorporate sustainable practices into the dining operations at Kennesaw State,” said Gary Coltek, director of Culinary and Hospitality Services.  “Sustainability has been a guiding principle from the very beginning, and it permeates everything we do, from the way we produce and prepare food, to how we handle waste, as well as the steps we take to educate and engage our campus and local community.”    

 Through its farm-to-campus program, The Commons began growing heirloom varieties of vegetables and herbs on a two-acre organic farm and added a second 40-acre farm with a 4,000-square-foot greenhouse in 2011.  It also harvests honey from 42 bee colonies. 

Largely as a result of its education and outreach efforts, more than 200 students and community volunteers worked on the farms last year to cultivate organic produce and honey used in the dining facility throughout the year. 

In addition, The Commons recycles all cardboard, plastic, aluminum, glass, and used cooking oil — repurposed as biodiesel — as well as composts wet and organic food waste.  In its outreach and education efforts, the dining facility launched a campaign to build awareness about its sustainability programs and encourage participation in environmentally conscious initiatives among the more than 5,000 students and guests who dine there daily.

NACUF’s annual awards reflect the globally accepted “triple bottom line” approach to evaluating a dining facility’s performance, commonly referred to as “people, planet and profit.”  The awards recognize excellence in five operational categories, including procurement practices, energy and water conservation, waste management, material resources and outreach and education.

“Through all our efforts, we met or exceeded NACUFS’ environmental sustainability and social responsibility guidelines,” said Coltek, noting among the results a 30 percent reduction in food waste, a 20 percent increase in recycling volume and a significant increase in the number of campus and local community volunteers, which led to decreased labor costs. 

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 80 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing, and a new Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing population of 24,100 students from more than 130 countries.



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit