Sustainable food

We are committed to offering healthy, affordable and sustainable catering across all our food outlets and services. We offer food that is produced, processed and traded in ways that:

  • Contribute to the local economies and sustainable livelihoods.
  • Avoid damaging our planet.
  • Enhance animal welfare.
  • Provide social benefits.

Visit the Food on Campus website to find out about our catering options, offers and more.

We are committed to delivering food services at the University which are environmentally sustainable. We have achieved a significant amount over recent years, including:

  • All of our sandwich packaging is plastic free
  • We have many vegan and vegetarian options
  • We work with local suppliers whenever possible
  • Our free range milk comes from a Lancashire dairy
  • Our coffee, tea and hot chocolate is all Fairtrade and roasted in Sheffield
  • We provide fresh healthy choices including, salads, soup and jacket potatoes
  • We hold an annual event for Fairtrade fortnight from suppliers including One water, Manchester Veg People and Tony’s Chocolonely.
  • Fairtrade university status
  • FoodInResidence has Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.
  • All of our eggs are free range.
  • All of our chickens are farm assured.
  • All of our fish appears on the Marine Conservation Society approved list.
  • Our animal welfare policy (Food in Residence only).
  • Our sustainable food policy.
  • Starting a cooperative, Manchester Veg People, to increase the number of organic vegetable growers in and around Manchester. We now spend around £40,000 a year on local, organic, seasonal vegetables from in and around Manchester through Manchester Veg People.
  • Free tap water is available from all of our catering outlets and from water fountains across campus.
  • We are working with Klimato to provide carbon labelling on our menus.

The Sustainable Restaurant Association has awarded us the following for our hard work and commitment to sustainability:

  • Three stars for Food in Residence.
  • Three stars for the Greenhouse Cafe.
  • Two stars for Christies Bistro.

The certification scheme assesses us on the following topics:




  • Community Engagement
  • Treating People Fairly
  • Healthy Eating
  • Responsible Marketing
  • Environmentally Positive Farming
  • Local & Seasonal
  • Sustainable Fish
  • Ethical Meat & Dairy
  • Fair Trade
  • Water Saving
  • Workplace Resources
  • Supply Chain
  • Waste Management
  • Energy Efficiency

We are committed to ensuring our activity is environmentally sustainable and will work towards achieving three star status, the highest possible award, by 2020.

For more information visit sustainability in catered halls.

How can I play my part?

There are a number of ways in which you can reduce your environmental impact when buying food at work or university:

Want Not Waste shop

Within the University's Student's Union you can find the student-run Want Not Waste shop for all your refillable needs including dried goods, cleaning products, beauty products and a TerraCycle station for food wrappers that you may not be able to recycle from your own homes.

Food-Sharing Apps

Another way you can reduce your environmental impact and food waste, is by downloading a food-sharing app on your phones, such as Olio, Too Good To Go and Karma.

By downloading these apps, you can advertise foodstuffs that are still useable and edible that you may no longer want or need. You can also see what others in your local area are giving away. Flick through these apps before you go to the supermarket, reduce potential food waste, and save money!

Food waste

In the UK around 9.52 Million tonnes of food is thrown away every year. Nine tonnes of this food waste is thrown away by hospitality and food services. Members of the University can help reduce those numbers by considering what they order for University catered events.

If an event has used University approved catering suppliers from Unibuy, staff can contact and deliver leftover food themselves. The list of approved suppliers can be found in the events’ food waste guidance.

For more information on food waste and where the nearest food waste bins are please visit the food waste pages.

Sustainable food projects

We have several projects for staff and students to be involved with growing food across campus.

  • St Peter’s House

We have allotments and a hidden garden behind St Peter’s House in the heart of our campus. We gather weekly to sow some seeds and pull some weeds together. We also care for two bee hives on the roof of St Peter’s House, and offer the opportunity for students to come and learn all about these curious littler buzzers! We run courses to learn the basis of bee and hive care, and – when you’re ready – take you up to help care for the bees.

  • Firs Botanical Gardens

Students use polytunnels at our Firs Botanical Gardens to grow fresh salad leaves and greens. During the Covid 19 pandemic emergency response, student volunteers picked this food to supplement a fresh produce veg box initiative run by Oldham Council for users of Oldham Foodbank. The vegetables grown at The Firs are now supplying a new project being piloted in Oldham to establish an affordable veg box scheme aimed at Oldham residents moving out of emergency food provision and those on low income. Recipe and cooking skill support to make the best use of the produce is also provided.

  • Incredible Edible Manchester

Provision of food growing space off campus is provided by our Incredible Edible Manchester partnership. If you are enthusiastic about growing local, sustainable fresh food, then is the opportunity for you. We transform unused, derelict plots of land into edible plots. You can help clear sites across Manchester, build greenhouses and vegetable beds and plant seeds.

  • Veg box scheme

In summer of 2015, we partnered with the Kindling Trust to launch our organic box scheme, Veg Box People, with collection points on campus. This has now grown across the city to 20 collection points in Greater Manchester.