vegetables cooking

Global food systems account for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. NYU Dining & Catering is committed to fostering and promoting sustainability through its business practices, menu offerings, and dining operations.

Cool Food Pledge

New York University is a signatory to the Cool Food Pledge, a commitment to reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2030.

This pledge is in partnership with global organizations, collectively serving over 1.2 billion meals per year, and it encompasses all centrally contracted dining facilities and catering at NYU’s campuses in New York, Shanghai, and Abu Dhabi, accounting for over 20 NYU-run dining facilities around the world.

To accomplish this, NYU has incorporated the EAT-Lancet and Menus of Change frameworks into its dining principles, emphasizing a variety of sustainability objectives.

These efforts include:

  • Featuring daily menus that have plant-forward entrees that are attractive, tasty, healthy, protein-rich, and wellness-oriented.
  • Focusing on whole, minimally processed food.
  • Offering vegan options wherever dairy products are offered. Currently all retail locations have plant-based ice creams, and all residential locations have plant-based desserts at their sweet shoppe counters.
  • Serving plant-based burgers at every grill location.
  • Buying fresh, seasonal and local products to support family farms and businesses.
  • Bringing educational programs to teach students how to make delicious, healthy, climate-friendly choices, and how to cook these meals for themselves.

All residential NYU dining locations are also Green Restaurant Association certified, which holds them accountable for meeting additional sustainability measures related to water, waste, energy, and more. NYU also received a Gold rating through the Sustainability Tracking Assessment & Rating System (STARS), conducted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

Learn more by reading our press release.


The chart below shows NYU’s progress towards meeting the 25 percent goal. This includes data from Abu Dhabi, New York City, and Shanghai.  

NYU’s Progress toward 2030 goal*
Bar graph showing NYU's progress towards meeting the 25% reduction goal. See expandable for long description.

*The large decrease from 2019 to 2020 is due to a significant reduction in on-campus dining and catering as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

8.3% cut in per calorie emissions

from 2019 to 2020

In order to evaluate NYU’s performance separate from the change in total meals served during COVID-19, NYU also tracked its food emissions on a per calorie basis. NYU has had an 8.3% cut in emissions per calorie in the first year of the pledge, though the meals served during COVID-19 were unique to the circumstances, and differ from what was served in 2019 and what may be in served in the future.

Emissions by Type by Food

Certain foods disproportionately contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, beef and legumes each provide 5 percent of the calories of NYU’s purchased food. However, beef is 45 percent of NYU’s food emissions, while legumes are just 2 percent.

The figures below show the numbers of calories of each type of food purchased and the emissions of each type of food).

Pie chart. Title: Calories of food prucahsed by category in 2020. See expandable for full description.

Pie chart. Title: Calories of food purchased by category in 2020. See expandable for full description.