Sustainable food management helps Purdue bring healthy menu selections to its campus community while keeping costs and waste down. Offering locally grown food at Purdue Farmers Market brings farm-fresh produce right to the heart of campus for students, faculty, and staff alike to enjoy. And with an eye on waste, Purdue is also finding innovative ways to cut costs. Click the links below to learn more.

Sustainable Dining at Purdue

Purdue Housing & Food Services is committed to serving the campus community with nutritious fare, hygienic best practices, and sustainable waste management systems. A few examples of the university’s sustainable dining initiatives are listed below.

Biodiesel production from fryer oil and grease products

Before 2010, Purdue paid $7,000 annually to have food oil and grease hauled away. After 2010, companies paid Purdue to acquire the food oil and grease, which can be converted into a biodiesel. Total annual revenue for used fryer oil for 2010-12 was about $4,200. Around 14.5 tons of fryer oil was diverted in the fiscal year ending June 2012. In the 2013-14 year alone, Purdue diverted 7.58 tons of fryer oil and earned over $3,000 in revenue.

Tray-free dining

In August 2012, after a pilot in all five dining courts, Purdue instituted tray-free dining at Wiley and Windsor dining courts. Tray-free dining reduces washing costs, decreases tray waste by about 50 percent, and makes diners more aware of responsible, healthy eating choices. As of August 2013, all dining halls with the exception of Ford Dining Court are now tray-free.

Donate leftover food

Housing & Food Services has created a partnership with a local Food Finders Food Bank to send all leftover reusable/safe food items to help families in need and to reduce food waste in the landfill stream. In the 2013-14 year, Purdue donated over 10,000 pounds of food to the local food bank. Even while donating over 5 tons of food, it only represents a tiny portion of the food that Purdue uses per year allowing a lot of room for improvement.

Increased cardboard recycling 

Cardboard balers (machines that compact and package cardboard) were installed as dining courts were built or remodeled. Selling baled cardboard generates revenue and diverts the cardboard from the landfill. In the 2013-14 year, dining halls contributed around 200 tons to the more than 1230 tons of cardboard and paper recycled at Purdue.

Reusable bottle program

In fall 2010, each of the roughly 6,000 freshmen on a Purdue Dining Plan received a reusable bottle to use in our carry-out operations called "On-the-Go!" and other University Residences retail operations. The "On-the-Go!" initiative was expanded in 2011, and in 2012 Purdue Dining & Catering distributed reusable bottles along with reusable bags for all 10,000-plus students on board (dining) plans. Signs are posted to remind students that if they use their reusable bottles in "On-the-Go!", their fountain drinks are free. If they use them in retail operations, the cost is significant lower.

Electricity generation from food waste

All the leftover food from students’ plates or trays returned to the dish room is used to make electricity at the West Lafayette Sewage plant. In 2012, the program diverted 455 tons of food waste from the landfill. Landfill fees paid by the University decreased by $20,475. The waste matter was used to generate 795,937 kilowatts of energy, resulting in a savings of $55,715.57 for the West Lafayette Sewage plant. Currently, the food waste provides the fuel to generate about 20 percent of the power needs for that facility. Watch a “Boiler Bytes” segment from late 2009, when the program began.

Purdue Farmer's Market

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The 2018 Purdue Farmers Market begins Thursday May 3, 2018 at 11:00A.M. and runs until 2:00P.M. Starting August 2nd, 2018, the market will be open even longer from 11:00A.M. to 3:00P.M. The market will be held at the northern end of the Memorial Mall along Oval Drive for the whole farmers market season. 

Due to nearby construction, patrons will not be permitted to drive on Memorial Mall Drive or Oval Drive surrounding the market. Guests and individuals without a parking permit may pay to park in the Grant Street Parking Garage. Those with an “A” permit may park in the Grant Street Parking Garage or the lots between Marsteller and Sheetz Streets. The market will be accessible by foot despite the construction!

Our goal is to popularize healthy eating among the Purdue community, forge links with local small business owners, and encourage a general culture of sustainable living on campus. In 2017, Purdue's Farmers Market had nearly 20 different vendors exhibiting their fare weekly, including different kinds of locally grown and organic fruits, vegetables, meats, flowers, as well as freshly prepared lunches.

We have encouraged the presence of student organizations and brought in entertainment, to ensure a fun, community-building experience. One of our most successful partnerships was with the Purdue University Cycling Club (PUCC) to develop a Bike Tent at the Farmers Market. PUCC members staffed the tent, talking with market visitors, handing out copies of a Campus Bike Map, and providing free bicycle repairs for the campus community. Student groups like Full Circle Agriculture at Purdue (FCAP) and the Boiler Green Initiative (BGI) have also reached out to visitors at the market. On the entertainment front, you can come by and watch local singers, student music organizations like the Purduettes, and even ride the Boilermaker Special train, as they visit the market throughout the season.

View the Sustainability Calendar

Visitors to the Farmers Market reported the following comments in our inaugural Consumer Survey:

“Having it at Memorial Mall makes it SO much easier to go to! Love the new location.”

“Make sure the Bike Tent comes back!”

If you would like to participate in the Purdue Farmers Market in some way, either as a student organization or vendor, please contact us at

If you would like to know more about the Purdue Farmers Market, and stay informed about happening events, special deals, etc., you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.