Davidson College Dining Services has a deep respect and commitment to protecting and improving the environment while making a positive impact in the lives of our local and global community.

The following are a few ways we work to make our campus more environmentally conscious.

Our Choices

Embedded sustainability practices clearly result in a positive impact on our program. Every product and procedure is looked at with three things in mind—reduce, reuse and recycle. Here are just a few examples:

  • Reduce - Reduce the quantity of product used or served.  Letting the guest self-serve and eliminating trays are the leading two factors in reducing food waste.  Batch cooking throughout the meal also aids in reducing the food waste at the end of the meal.
  • Reuse - The dishes are washed and reused at Vail Commons and the Wildcat Den.  The Green Box Program for take-out meals at Vail Commons offers flexibility to our guests without reliance on single-use takeout containers.
  • Recycle - Dining Services recycles paper, plastic, metal cans, cardboard and cooking oil.  Pre- and post-consumer food waste is also composted.

Our Food

The Farm at Davidson College

Davidson Dining works closely with the Farm Manager. The Chefs are committed to including fresh produce that is harvested from the Farm in our menus and offerings. Lettuces, basil, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and melons are some of great Farm grown produce you will find at Vail Commons.

Food Waste Reduction

Our Chefs cook the food in smaller batches.  This allows for fresh food throughout meal service and less waste at the end of the day. The Chefs also develop menus to maximize the use of our products currently on hand.


All seafood served is caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways, in accordance with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.

Peet’s Coffee

Peet’s roasts 100 percent of its coffee in the first LEED ® Gold-certified roasting facility in the nation, and is deeply committed to practices with positive impacts for people and planet.

Plant Forward

Plant forward does not mean the menu is vegetarian or vegan. It is simply a style of eating that emphasizes plant-based foods, but is not strictly limited to them. Meat may be included, but it’s usually not the main feature of the meal. Plant-based diets are less demanding on natural resources. 

Vail Commons offers so much to this type of dining. An abundance of fresh produce is available as well as; steamed vegetables, rice, grains, stir fry vegetable options, vegetarian sandwich choices, a full salad bar offering fresh fruits, vegetables and beans, and the Power Plant, a serving station with a complete vegan menu.

Distributors and Vendors

The suppliers we use are committed to local purchasing. When available, their products are sourced as local as possible. Much of their produce and dairy comes right from the Carolinas. By using a broad line distributor, we are reducing the number of trucks delivering to campus each day which reduces the carbon impact on our community.

Scratch Cooking

The Vail Commons staff makes most meals from scratch, which reduces the use of packaging and packaged materials. This includes all soups, dressings and sauces.

Our Initiatives

Green Box program

Reusable to-go container program at Vail Commons.

Drink Cups

Reusable drink container program at all locations.

Trayless Dining

The benefits of trayless dining are substantial. Trayless dining saves water, detergent, energy, and food, which all result in significant economic savings.


China, flatware and glasses are washed and reused in the dining hall to reduce paper waste.

Den Baskets

Sandwich baskets are used at the Wildcat Den instead of disposables.


We only use 100 percent recycled paper napkins.

Equipment Replacement

The college installed energy efficient equipment in Vail Commons, including: Induction Burners, a TurboChef-Tornado Exhaust Hood System, Combi Oven and LED lighting.

Our Recycling and Waste


Dining Services recycles office paper, metal cans, glass and plastic.  A large recycle dumpster is located behind Vail Commons. New employees are taught the procedures and value of recycling.

Cardboard Boxes

On average, the college in recent years has recycled 30 tons of cardboard per year, most of it from Vail Commons and the Davis Café. Commons also makes boxes available to students at the end of the semesters for use in packing and moving.

Used Fryer Oil

The college partners with US Foods for oil pick up so that it may be reused as bio-diesel fuel.


All Dining Service facilities collect food waste through the college's partnership with Crown Town Compost, a local business co-founded by a Davidson alumnus.

Reduction of Product Packaging

Vail Commons dispenses products in bulk, rather than portion packaging, to reduce packaging waste.

Our People

Sustainable Employment

Dining Services is self operated by Davidson College. Both the college and our department are committed to a sustainable workforce. Wages, benefits and work/home life balance are just a few examples of Davidson exceeding workplace market norms Engaged, committed, long term employees create the welcoming atmosphere for our guests.

Internal Promotions

The department is continuously training our associates on a daily basis. Many of our supervisors and managers were promoted from within the department.  Across campus, you will also find staff that got their start in Dining Services.

Community Job Training

Vail Commons partners with local high schools to provide job training to students with disabilities, making them better equipped to enter the workforce after high school.