Campus Initiatives

It's easy to make smart environmental choices when you dine on campus. We know today's college students want to do the right thing for the planet and we also understand you lead busy lives, so your Sodexo chefs and managers do a lot of the work for you behind the scenes! 

From purchasing local seasonal produce whenever possible to reducing waste, the Norse Culinary Team is dedicated to providing you with an exceptional dining experience that is good for you and good for the planet. 

This commitment was formalized with Sodexo's Better Tomorrow Plan. The Better Tomorrow Plan includes 14 commitments for a brighter future by focusing on three key priorities: health, community and planet. Learn more about the Better Tomorrow Commitments

While the Norse Culinary Team works hard behind the scenes, we also count on student engagement and enthusiasm to spread the word about what we're doing together on campus. We encourage you to work with us to continue to innovate and improve sustainability efforts on campus and in the community. 

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please contact us. We would love to hear from you.

Xpressnap Napkin Holders 

Our Xpressnap Holders are just one solution to reducing energy and waste. They save 30 percent in paper over traditional napkin dispensing mechanisms. The great thing about these dispensers is that they help the environment while helping keep costs down. The napkins are made of 100 percent recycled paper and the dispenser will encourage customers to take (and waste) less napkins. Energy is saved because less power is used to recycle paper products than to create them from new material. 

According to Xpressnap, enough is saved through utilizing recycled napkins to power 600 American homes for an entire year! More than half a million gallons of oil was saved—38 tanker trucks worth—and 41 tons of pollutants were kept out of the environment. 4,131 cubic yards of paper were diverted from landfill space. This is enough to cover an entire football field with a two and a half foot deep stack of paper! 

Recycling in Our Dining Facilities 

We recycle all paper, cardboard, plastics, metals and redeemables that we use in our dining facilities. Redeemables are carbonated beverages purchased in the state of Iowa. Redeemables are worth 5 cents each and the Sustainability department can use the money redeemed from those to maintain and replace recycling bins. 

Other recyclables are properly disposed of and collected by the campus recyclers. We make sure that all of our staff and student workers are aware of the types of items that are recyclable and those that aren't. 


Along with recycling, Luther College strongly supports composting, and our good waste composting initiative has been active for 12 years. The system is present in three of our dining locations: Marty's, the Cafeteria, and Oneota Market. Through this system all compost is transferred to a compost pile for processing and then used on campus! We make sure to label which items can be used for composting and which cannot. 

Food, Purchasing, and Waste 

As part of the Campus Sustainability Council initiatives, one sub-group is particularly concerned with good purchasing guidelines development, product planning of local produce, waste initiatives, real food change commitment and implementation, and student farm assessment briefings. The Dining Services has several members on this council every year.

Caf to Community Program 

The goal of Luther’s Cafeteria to Community Program is to ensure that good food makes it onto the plates of those who need it. Through this program, student coordinators work in close collaboration with dining services staff to package food into quart sized containers that will be labeled and delivered to the First Lutheran Church Food Pantry twice weekly. Donations include soup, main entrees, homemade pasta sauce, vegetables, salads and more. Learn more about the Caf to Community Program and how to volunteer. 

Reusable Cup Discount 

When you bring your own coffee mug or other reusable cup to our dining locations, you receive a discount on your beverage! 

Reuse-a-Bowl Program 

In Oneota Market, the salad bar is one of the most popular lunch choices. By paying a one-time fee, you can get a reusable container to use for the salad bar. Each time you come back, trade your dirty container in for a clean one. We'll wash the one you brought back and give it to someone else! 


We are committed to reusing our resources and creating new enegry forms. From this stemmed Sustainability's Biodiesel program. The Luther College Cafeteria even benefits from this program! We convert our used fryer oil into biodiesel fuel

Local Food on Campus 

We work hard to get as many local ingredients locally as possible. Our chefs write menus to take advantage of the fresh fruits and vegetables that are naturally in season in the Midwest. We purchase from many local producers and even grow some of our own fresh ingredients! 

Luther Gardens 

The Cafeteria is proud to serve fresh produce items from our own backyard! Luther College maintains three Residence Hall Gardens, two edible landscapes, and several community gardens around campus throughout the year. Student workers help plant, grow, and harvest a variety of items including carrots, eggplant, leeks, melons, peas, tomatoes, and zucchini. It is because of their hard work and dedication that these gardens have been increasingly successful over the past few years. To learn more, go to: Growing Gardens

Our Local Providers 

Dining Services purchases a variety of food items from local producers, aiming to both reduce our carbon footprint as well as support local farmers. They work hard to make a living and do so through a dedication to stewardship and commitment to quality. Plus, we think their products taste better! 

Some of the local companies we buy from include: 

  • Anderson and Erickson Dairy {Des Moines} 
  • Ferndale Market {Decorah}
  • Impact Coffee {Decorah} 
  • WW Homestead Dairy {Waukon} 
  • Country View Dairy {Hawkeye} 
  • Sno Pac (Caledonia, MN) 
  • Iowa Food Hub

What is Luther Buying? 

It's a good question - which items are Luther specifically buying locally? The Luther College Dining Services has been working hard to increase the amount of local products served at our dining locations. Just recently, we signed an agreement with GROWN Locally to map out how much of each product we will purchase from them in the upcoming year!