Food Waste and Food Recovery

Food Surplus and Waste

Did you know that 25% of all freshwater used annually in the United States goes to produce food that is never eaten?

Food waste is an issue that affects everyone. In the United States, 40% of food produced is never eaten and is sent to landfill. Pitt Dining by Sodexo is committed to fighting food waste throughout our operations.

Food Waste Audits

Pitt Dining conducts food waste audits of our two dining halls, Market Central and The Perch at Sutherland, each semester to measure food waste and identify opportunities to reduce it. Since 2017 we’ve managed to reduce post-consumer plate waste by 16% in Market Central, avoiding nearly half a ton of food from being wasted each week. 

Food Recovery

Volunteers from the student group Food Recovery Heroes (a local chapter of the Food Recovery Network) have been collecting surplus food from several locations on Pitt’s Oakland campus since fall 2014. Surplus food is safely delivered to local agencies that are able to feed families and communities fresh, nutritious meals rather than canned, sodium-heavy, non-perishable foods.

Students and Pitt Dining have recovered and delivered more than 24,000 lbs of food to local agencies. Student volunteers currently recover food from the Market Central, the Perch at Sutherland, the Petersen Events Center, Einstein Bros. Bagels locations, and the Forbes Street Market. Together students, Pitt Dining, and the local food recovery organization 412 Food Rescue are working to expand recoveries to dining locations across campus. In May 2016 the Pitt Dining became Food Recovery Verified by the Food Recovery Network. Pitt is the first school in the ACC to be Food Recovery Verified.

Food Recovery Heroes won the 2017 Sustainability Award for their commitment to fighting food waste and feeding people. Food Recovery Heroes are always in need of volunteers to help with food recovery. Recoveries take on average 20-30 minutes and can make a big difference to our neighbors facing hunger. Volunteering with Food Recovery Heroes can count towards OCC credit hour for service. Those interested in volunteering, email the Food Recovery Heroes.

Pitt FoodShare

Dozens of events take place on campus each day that offer free food during and after the event. Join the Pitt FoodShare Facebook group to learn move about free food left over from events.


Pitt Dining is committed to diverting food waste from landfills by composting it. We are working with University of Pittsburgh departments to establish regular composting in our dining halls and cafeterias. This is a especially challenging task because of our dense urban environment and older buildings, but we're not letting that hold us back! Our goal is to compost 50% of our food waste by 2025.