To apply for certification a college or university must complete a questionnaire describing the priorities of their general operation as a whole, and have at least one dining facility evaluated for a 1-, 2- or 3-star rating.
Our certification can be applied to any type of dining outlet including, but not limited to, an all-you-care-to-eat dining hall, retail grab-and-go market, food truck, and campus restaurant.
There are many different ways a dining location can earn points toward certification and the more steps a university takes toward a nutritious, sustainable offering, the higher the score. Stars are awarded as follows with traits of operations included at each level.
A 1-star dining facility will:
- Offer a variety of dishes that meet SPE’s criteria for a balanced plate, with at least one meal daily during lunch and dinner. For cycle menus, a minimum cycle of 14 days is required while for static menus, at least 3 dishes are required daily.
Achieve an overall score of 30-50% from our questionnaire. Below are some additional characteristics of a 1-star university dining facility:
- Healthy breakfast options
- Whole grain alternatives
- Vegetarian options
- Non-fried vegetables options offered regularly
- Healthy, fruit-based dessert options
- Seasonal and regionally sourced dishes offered occasionally
- Hormone free milk and sustainable eggs
- Specials featuring antibiotic-free meats and poultry and sustainably sourced seafood
- Screening of third party ingredients
- Recycling program
A 2-star facility:
Must meet criteria for 1-star certification and achieve a score of 50-80% from our questionnaire. Below are additional actions that characterize a 2-star dining facility:
- An increased number of dishes that meet SPE’s criteria for a balanced plate
- Whole grains, legumes and vegetables featured at most meal times and more than one station
- Primarily uses unsaturated oils for cooking
- Uses alternatives to deep-frying and flame-grilling
- Makes some sauces and dressings in house
- Seasonal and regionally sourced dishes are served several times a month
- Frequently features antibiotic free meats and poutlry
- Offers an increased variety of sustainably sourced seafood
- Allergen labeling and allergen-free offerings
- Identification of healthy options
- Tray-less dining operation
A 3-star facility:
Must meet criteria for 2-star certification and achieve a score of 80% or more from our questionnaire. Below are additional actions that characterize a 3-star dining facility:
- Vegetables, whole grains and legumes in most dishes, with multiple dishes meeting SPE’s criteria for a balanced plate at breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Minimal deep-frying and flame-grilling
- Alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages offered
- Smaller portions of animal proteins, with grass-fed beef and game meats featured
- Avoids highly processed products with artificial colors, flavors or other ingredients of concern
- Varied and sustainably sourced seafood
- Increased amount of sustainably raised meats and poultry
- Nutrition education for students and staff
If you aren’t currently eligible for certification, we can help you get there!
Thank you for your submission. Please expect a response from our team within the next few days.
VP, Culinary Nutrition and Sustainability