Food & Purchasing

The UWM community is a large consumer of goods and services. Anything from our choices of carpet to coffee, we have a great impact on our economy, society, and the environment. Where we choose to spend our $’s says a lot about who we are as an individual or institution.

UWM Restaurant Operations

In recent years, UWM Restaurant Operations has made several strides toward sustainability. Initiatives like ordering all organic, Wisconsin potatoes, making Fair Trade coffee available in its Grind coffee shops, expanding its vegetarian and vegan options, teaming up with Midwest Foods, and creating the health food store RESTOR have been value-added additions to their selection.  

LOCALIn an effort to become even more sustainable, UWM Restaurant Operations has initiated the concept of Living, Operating, Consuming, and Acquiring Locally. Their LOCAL concept offers students an opportunity to live and consume locally by participating in the food service programs and notice the steps taken by UWM to procure and promote local products and business. The local brand is marketed on the produce, prepared foods and equipmentthat fall under the LOCAL concept. Some examples of how Restaurant Operations is applying its LOCAL concept is buying cheese from Vern’s Cheese in Door County, utilizing Wisconsin Catering companies by buying select meats for special meals from Bunzel’s Meat Market, and changing its soy milk to Kikkoman Pearl located here in Wisconsin, to name a few.

Restaurant Operations has also been an essential part of the new Sandburg Gardens, and is growing a variety of produce to be used in everyday meal planning at Sandburg.

Learn more at the Restaurant Operations Sustainability Page

Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin

Starting in 2008, Restaurant Operations supplemented its produce purchase with fresh vegetables from Badgerland Produce Coop. Shrinking the average “food mile” from 1,500-2,500 miles down to 178 miles not only reduces the amount of fossil fuels need to transport it, but it also helps the local economy.


From recycled content, to Energy Star equipment, to simple durability, it is important for UWM’s purchase decisions to be a part of the sustainability movement on campus.

These sustainable purchasing goals are currently under review:

  • Purchase University materials and services based on these sustainable factors, whenever possible, meeting multiple qualifiers:
    • Durable, form of the product is suited for its function to maximize its lifetime
    • Product is made from pre/post consumer or industrial recycled material
    • Product can be recycled in the end, and the campus operations is set up to do so
    • Efficiency of the product or machinery will save money by utilizing less water or energy resources over its lifetime
    • Product is documented to produce significantly less toxins, preferably biodegradable
    • Product is harvested or made within a 500 mile radius of UWM
    • Product is shipped with minimal packaging (consistent with care of the product), preferably made of recycled and/or recyclable materials.
  • Purchase and monitor certified products that meet these standards, where they exist
    • EnergyStar Logo
    • Green Seal Certified
    • NSF 140 2007
    • Green Guard
    • ISO 14000
    • The Forest Stewardship Counsil

Currently at UWM

Paper- All paper purchases must be made of at least 30% recycled product

Computers- The UITS recommended campus computers are Energy Star models

Carpeting- Campus planners and purchasing agents have sustainable carpet choices selected that are made available to interested departments, and many such installations have take place at UWM

Cleaning Products- Several Green Seal Certified products are used through campus buildings, and many additional products are currently under consideration.

Furniture-The UWM campus is able to use a UW-Madison contract designed to offer University departments an alternative to buying new furniture.  Furniture must be 95% or greater recycled with only connectors, electrical or other components being new only to complete an assembly or installation. To purchase refurbished furniture visit the Recycled Furniture page on the UW-Madison purchasing website.