Sustainable Dining


According to U.S. EPA, approximately 35 million tons of food waste was generated in 2010, with 97 percent ending up in landfills or incinerators. Food waste is an emerging issue with environmental, social, and economic impacts, and UT Arlington recognizes the importance of minimizing food waste on our campus. We approach this issue in multiple ways, including collaboration with our dining services provider, involvement in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, and development of our award-wining composting program.


Food recovery network national badge


UTA is one of 50 colleges and universities in the United States and among the first in Texas to become a partner in the U.S. EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, a food waste reduction initiative within the EPA’s WasteWise program. Partners commit to at least a 5% increase from their baseline year in at least one of the three food diversion categories (prevention, donation, and composting) or to a combined 5 percent increase across all three food waste diversion categories. In 2014 and 2018, UTA was the recipient of EPA’s award for Leadership in reducing food waste.


When food decomposes in landfills, it generates methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Composting food and other organic waste can reduce its climate impact while retaining vital nutrients for reuse in campus gardens and landscaping. The University’s composting program annually composts 32.4 tons of food waste from on-campus dining services and off-campus coffee shops and hospitals as well as yard waste collected from campus ground crews. The University uses the compost as mulch and soil amendment on campus grounds.

In June 2023, UTA launched a post-consumer composting program in the University Center and the Mav Cafe to divert all post-consumer waste away from the landfill. Since this summer, we have composted 9,125 pounds of post-consumer food waste. 

The program has received numerous awards from The Recycling Alliance of Texas, the Greater DFW Recycling Alliance, and the North Texas Corporate Recycling Alliance, and the EPA Food Recovery Challenge. 


Maverick pantry accepting donations after a food drive.

Maverick Pantry

The Maverick Pantry is open to UTA students, faculty, and staff who have UTA I.D.'s. The Maverick Pantry is committed to feeding student success by providing food and toiletry items. In 2023, the Pantry donated 38051.29 pounds of food.

The Maverick pantry also provides assistance to student parents, they have a specific section designated to baby and children food items. In addition to food and toiletry items, the Pantry also offers clothing through the Professional Development Clothing Closet, and cap and gown rentals for students who cannot afford to purchase these items for graduation.

Questions about support services or donating to the Maverick Pantry can be sent to


Chartwells, UTA’s dining services provider, purchases 100% certified seafood, cage-free shell eggs, grass-fed beef, rBGH free milk and chicken, turkey and pork produced without the routine use of antibiotics. Chartwells’ Balanced Sustainability approach addresses four basic tenets of sustainable and socially responsible business practices: Eat Green, Build Green, Run Green, and Return Green. These practices include such programs as trayless dining service and Project Clean Plate, which promotes food waste awareness. Waste Not tracks, measures and reduces kitchen waste. 

Ozzi Boxes 

Maverick dining participates in the Ozzi box program. Ozzi boxes are reusable to-go containers, which are available for students and staff to use. Before the Ozzi box program was implemented, Connections Cafe and Mav Cafe were distributing over 200,000 styrofoam boxes every year. Since the start of the program in 2022, Maverick Dining has been able to eliminate the use of over 500,000 styrofoam boxes. 

The program is free for anyone with a meal plan. Students and staff without a meal plan are able to get an Ozzibox for $5 one-time fee. 

Using an Ozzi box is very easy! Sign up for the box, use it to take food from the dining halls, rinse it when you're done and return it for a new one! 

Ozzi box available to use at UTA dining halls


More than 22 million pounds of uneaten food is thrown away on college campuses each year, according to Food Recovery Network, a student-driven nonprofit dedicated to reducing food waste and hunger at higher education institutions. A single college student generates an average 142 pounds of food waste per year, according to Recycling Works, a Massachusetts recycling assistance program. The unconscious habit of wasting food is greatly at odds with the amount of people who need it: nearly 15 percent of the population (47 million people) lives below the federal poverty line. Therefore, food waste on such a large scale is not only an economic issue and environmental issue, but it also ties in with social sustainability.

Every April Maverick Dining participates in Stop Food Waste Day. This initiative helps illustrate to our guests the impact of the food they throw away after eating. Stop Food Waste Day is an initiative with the goal of encouraging others to be more mindful about the food waste they create. Instead of guests placing their plates on the dish return line, the team along with volunteers take the plates to scrape the uneaten food into bins. This food waste is then measured and recorded.

To see the impact of the event, the amount of food waste is measured before and after the event in order to compare the amount of waste.

Nov 2014: 126 lbs of food waste was weighed as wasted food

Nov 2015: 65 lbs of food waste was weighed as wasted food

April 2018: 362 lbs of food waste was collected and weighed over a period of 3 days with a student count of 1,861

In addition to providing useful information about what sorts of things end up in the waste stream in dining halls, the events serve to inspire students to consume less. Students as they left the dining halls after the events said they would take less food in general in the future.