Catering Sustainability

Promoting low carbon diets

As of Michaelmas 2023, the default option at Formal Hall is vegetarian. Meat and fish are available by opting in. During daily food service, there is always a vegan and vegetarian option, which is placed first in the servery and subsided more generously than the meat option. Catering at events is also vegetarian by default.


Darwin Fellow and Director of Cambridge Zero Professor Emily Shuckburgh, and College Catering Manager Ivan Higney took to the stage in February 2023 to launch CamEATS ZERO, a new initiative focused on supporting Cambridge Colleges to implement sustainable food policies. Ivan, as a member of the CamEATS ZERO Steering Group, has lead the development of a Catering Staff Training Programme for plant-based cookery and minimising food waste.

Sustainable and ethical catering statement

This statement sets out the College’s intentions to minimise the impact of its catering operations on the environment, and its approach to promote sustainable and ethical practices and consumption. Our latest Sustainable and ethical statement was agreed in 2020 and sets out the following:

Summary of Aims

  • Reduce ruminant meat.
  • Reduce the consumption of dairy products.
  • Promote the consumption of more plant-based foods.
  • Reduce food wastage.
  • Source food and other products locally where possible.
  • Ensure that products are traded fairly throughout the supply chain.
  • Ensure that we provide fish from sustainable sources, limiting the impact on threatened stocks and through the environmental impacts of aquaculture.
  • Reduce single use plastic and reduce the use of all plastic packaging.
  • Continue to implement forward-thinking sustainability best practice.


  • Raise awareness of the benefits to the environment and individuals of the sustainable and ethical statement through communications, training and accreditation applications.
  • Monitor performance against the statement aims, including setting sustainable food targets, and reporting regularly on performance against these.

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Community fridge

Set up in 2021 in collaboration with the DCSA, the Darwin Community Fridge allows the catering team to share servings of food left over at the end of the day. The food is freely available to any Darwin members, and minimises the kitchen’s food waste. From this year, regular updates of what’s available in the fridge are now posted on the X account @Darwinnowaste.

The Community Fridge won the University of Cambridge Green Impact Community Award.


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Student allotment

The student-run allotment on the main Darwin site has been revived and rejuvenated since the Covid-19 pandemic. The allotment provides fresh produce, is accessible to all members, and teaches students about what it is possible to grow in the UK climate. Information can be found by College members via the DCSA WhatsApp Community Page.

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