Dining Options at Pitt Please the Palate, Promote Sustainability Efforts

Panther Grille food truck parked among trees with a group of people waiting to orderLast year, Bon Appétit magazine named Pitt one of the seven healthiest college dining halls in the country. This year, there’s more to brag about: campuswide sustainability efforts. 

The basics

While a new-and-improved Dining Services website is debuting this fall, visit the current Pitt dining site for the full listing of sustainability initiatives. 

For questions about specific dietary needs or more detailed information about eating on campus, contact dining services.

Sustainability Coordinator for Pitt Dining by Sodexo Nick Goodfellow and his team want to make sustainability synonymous with Pitt dining. The new food options, locations and services bring even more choice to the campus community.

Apps and Trucks

PittGrub is an upcoming new app from the minds of Pitt School of Computing and Information faculty and students that pings users about events with leftover food on campus. Besides cutting back on food waste, it aims to reduce food insecurity for the University community. Learn more about how it works in the paper published this summer or watch the teaser video. Sign up to get notified when the app becomes available for iOS and Google Play this fall.

Mobile Nom, built by Pitt students, tracks the locations, menus and hours of Oakland’s food trucks — and Pitt now has its very own food truck to service areas of campus farther away from dining halls.

The Panther Grille food truck grew out of conversations with students. Students in the College of Business Administration developed the business plan and will continue assisting with the Panther Grille’s management as part of an experiential learning partnership between Sodexo and Pitt Business. The food truck will serve as a backup kitchen if any of the campus dining halls are out of commission, Goodfellow said. It will also serve locations farther from many food options, like upper campus.

Plates and plants

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher holding an H2Peas sign decorated with images of vegetables, standing in front of a cafeteria station with fresh food on display and customers in line for foodSmaller, tapas-style plates are the future for Market Central, as making the switch resulted in a 5 percent decrease in food waste last spring, Goodfellow said.

Two plant-based food stations debuted at Market Central and The Perch at Sutherland. H2Peas at Market Central and Kale to Pitt at The Perch will serve 100 percent vegan food aimed at everyone, not just vegans, Goodfellow said.

“Industry research shows that more and more folks are eating less meat rather than committing to going vegan or vegetarian,” he said.

Also of note: Market Central, Pitt’s largest dining hall, earned a gold-level designation from Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant, a nonprofit that ranks eateries in the city according to sustainable practices. It's one of just two university dining halls in the city to have the gold ranking. The Perch at Sutherland received a silver plate designation from Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant, Goodfellow said.

Locale

In true Pittsburgh fashion, here’s the gist of the Oakland business shuffle, according to where things used to be:

  • Maggie & Stella’s Cards & Gifts on Oakland Avenue is now an on-campus Amazon pickup location. Ship orders to Amazon@Pitt and pick up packages on the way back from class.
  • The old Oakland Bakery and Market is now Maggie & Stella’s, next to the Starbucks on Fifth Avenue.
  • The Oakland Bakery and Market is being folded into a larger on-campus grocery store where students can buy fresh, affordable local produce, meats, cheeses, sweets and convenience items, right in Oakland. The Forbes Street Market, a nod to the Avenue’s original name, is located where the 7-Eleven used to be, next to the William Pitt Union. It is set to open in October.

In the meantime, visit weekly farmers markets in front of the William Pitt Union every Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. between Aug. 30 and Nov. 1. New vendors this year include SaludPGH (vegan Puerto Rican food), Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream, Salúd Juicery, Zeke’s Coffee and La Palapa Mexican food truck.

Community Impact

Many of Orientation Week’s biggest events, such as the Ice Cream Social, Global Carnival and 4,000-person Chancellor’s picnic, are zero or near-zero waste, Erika Ninos, PittServes sustainability program coordinator, told the University Times. “We consider an event zero or near-zero waste when 75 percent of the waste at the event can be recycled, reused or composted,” she said. It’s “incredible that we can divert all that from the landfill throughout the week,” even before classes start.

During the year, student groups like Food Recovery Heroes collect and donate food items to community partners around Pittsburgh with encouragement from the City of Pittsburgh’s Climate Action Plan 3.0. Pitt is the first ACC school to become Food Recovery Verified by the Food Recovery Network.

Confused about meal plan tiers? Never fear.*

Dining Passes (also called swipes)

Use at Market Central in the Litchfield Towers lobby and The Perch in Sutherland Hall.

Dining Dollars

Use at any Pitt dining or coffee cart location on campus, Forbes Street Market on Forbes Avenue and the weekly farmer’s market at the William Pitt Union.

Panther Funds

Use at select community merchants in the Oakland neighborhood, Pitt laundromats on campus and the University of Thriftsburgh thrift store in the O’Hara Student Center.

*Dining plan choices can be changed until the last day of add/drop each semester. Download meal plan change forms, find help with choosing a meal plan and talk to Panther Central for more info.

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