Five ways the University is making food more sustainable

From sourcing high-quality ingredients to decreasing waste, the University has been working hard to make its food and drink more socially responsible and sustainable. Here are some highlights from 2019-20.

Why is food important?

Feeding the world’s growing population well, while protecting the natural systems on which we all depend, is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Agriculture, core to achieving food security, is both a key driver of environmental degradation, and extremely vulnerable to environmental change. Achieving sustainable, healthy diets underpins many of the Sustainable Development Goals – especially those concerned with hunger, poverty, health, gender equality, land, responsible consumption and production, and climate action.

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food SecurityThe University of Edinburgh

Leading the way

Good Food at a glance 2019/20 infographic thumbnail
View the PDF for the full sized Good Food at a glance 2019/20 infographic

Last year, the University won a Green Gown Award in the Campus Health, Food and Drink category for our commitment to responsible catering and our whole institution approach. The Green Gown Awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges.

The University’s coffee cup levy was also shortlisted in the Reduce, Re-use, Recycle category of the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s 2019 Food Made Good Awards.

Accommodation Catering and Events (ACE) have been awarded two star (excellent level) rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Our Good Food Policy sets out the University's ambitions in five key areas: sourcing, provision, practice, research, learning and teaching and leadership and culture.

2019/20 progress

Below are five areas in which the University has made the most progress in 2019/20. Staff and students have been incredibly supportive of these initiatives, recognising the key role they play as consumers in making socially responsible choices. 

Want to know more? View a summary of all the progress made in 2019/20 in our annual Good Food at a glance infographic. 

What's next?

Read our Good Food policy for our 2020/21 priorities.

Good Food policy 

How can I get involved?


Fairtrade Fortnight 2021 - group of cocoa farmers
For two weeks each year at the end of February and start of March (Fairtrade Fortnight), thousands of individuals, companies and groups across the UK come together to share the stories of the people who grow our food and drinks and who grow the cotton in our clothes, people who are often exploited and underpaid.



  • Commit to ordering climate conscious food options for catered events. This would involve ordering vegan and vegetarian food options, avoiding items which come packaged in plastic, and considering if the food ordered is in season and sourced locally. Our department has recently switched to only plant-based catering.
  • All University of Edinburgh staff are entitled to up to one day of paid leave per year for volunteering activities – A Day to Make a Difference. This is covered under the University’s special leave policy. Could you use your volunteering day to help a local food-related charity?


General enquiries

  • Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Contact details



Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability
The Boilerhouse
High School Yards

Post Code