Sustainable food

We have a Three Star rating - the highest rating and a Michelin Star of the sustainability world - from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Our commitment

We're dedicated to developing a sustainable food culture at the University. We're providing Fairtrade products where possible, and working with local food partners to increase the demand and supply of seasonal, local and organic food.

We aim to:

  • work with local producers and suppliers to increase the scale of local produce on campus - reducing food miles
  • source ethical produce as standard that protects wildlife and nature, source Fairtrade produce where available and promote seasonality
  • reduce food waste and packaging waste associated with catering and increase composting and recycling
  • improve the availability of affordable, healthy and sustainable food in our food outlets and hospitality
  • encourage our staff and students to get involved with community growing and other food related volunteering activities
  • provide opportunities to learn about good food through our research, teaching and events
  • promote and celebrate food through the diversity of our campus food outlets and food events 
  • support University and city-wide food initiatives.

Our performance:

  • Top Three Star standard from the Sustainable Restaurant Association renewed in 2015 with a score of 74 per cent, up from 72 per cent in 2014.
  • Bronze Food for Life Accreditation from the Soil Association for John Bull café and five hospitality menus in 2016.
  • Silver Food for Life Accreditation from the Soil Association for Drakes, Loafers and Reservoir Cafes in 2016.
  • Fairtrade University status.
  • Good Egg award winner for using free range eggs and egg products.
  • Three-quarters of our catering spend is on South West suppliers.
  • All our fresh milk is from Cornwall and all coffee is either Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance Certified or organic.
  • Our fish comes from Plymouth and Brixham markets, and is MSC certified and/or from Responsible Fishing Scheme boats.
  • All our meat is British and beef, pork and lamb comes from a family butcher in Exeter who is Red Tractor Certified and in turn sources meat from the South West.
  • Our seasonal fruit and vegetables supplier is from Saltash and sources from the South West.
  • Our near date food is collected and redistributed by UNICYCLE or is donated to Trevi House. 
  • A Vegetarian Society accredited outlet: The Reservoir Café.
  • Use of environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals in all outlets.


Tamar Valley Food Hub collection point at Drake’s Café

Do you want to buy local food but don’t know where to find it? Look no further.

Tamar Valley Food Hubs are providing a collection and home delivery service for locally produced food. Similar to a veg box scheme and online supermarket combined, it is designed to make buying local food easier for consumers. Go online to shop for local and sustainable products including seasonal fruit and vegetables, fresh bread, local cheese, other dairy, fish, meat, even local honey.


Shop online 
Pick up hub: Drake’s Café
Collect your order: between 3.30pm-3.45pm from the friendly team on Fridays
Don’t forget to order by 9.30am on Wednesday.

Tamar Valley Food Hubs is a non-profit making social enterprise made up of small-scale food and drink producers and their customers. By using us as part of your weekly shop, you will be directly supporting small producers and benefiting your community.

Our sustainable food culture

We're creating a sustainable food culture that supports local, sustainable and Fairtrade produce and suppliers. And we're transforming our catering into a model of sustainable catering.

Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA)

We were one of the first Universities to be accredited with the SRA standard in 2014, and we achieved the top Three Star rating (scoring 72 per cent), since renewed in 2015 (with 74 per cent). Their standard is rated with one to three stars, against the 14 key sustainability criteria of sourcing, society and environment. In 2015 we scored 66 per cent for sourcing (slightly down from 68 per cent in 2014), 90 per cent for society (up from 86 per cent in 2014) and 78 per cent for environment (up from 70 per cent in 2014). We scored particularly well against ‘treating people fairly’ (97 per cent), ‘community engagement’ (91 per cent) and ‘healthy eating’ (86 per cent) categories within society. Within the sourcing category we scored particularly well against ‘sustainable fish’ (82 per cent), ‘ethical meat and dairy’ (74 per cent) and Fair Trade (83 per cent). We have improvements to make in the area of ‘environmentally positive farming’ where we scored a lower 47 per cent.

Our produce, suppliers and near-date food

Our fish, Individually Quick Frozen haddock, used to be fished in the Pacific and packed in China, before flying over 5,000 miles to get to your plate in Drake’s Café. Since 2013, we source fish from the local Plymouth and Brixton fish markets, empowering our supplier to provide fish that is plentiful on the day and either MSC Certified or from boats that are part of the Responsible Fishing Scheme. The boats are small day boats, and many of them are rod and line. This supports the local fishing industry, removes air miles and increases quality.

Since 2015 we have been using a local fish supplier who gets the produce from Plymouth and Brixton fish markets.

All our meat is British and beef, pork and lamb is from an Exeter family butcher, Red Tractor Certified and sourced from the South West. Our fruit and vegetables supplier is from Saltash. Our baker is Friary Mill based in Plymouth. Our fresh milk is local, our eggs are free range, our coffee is Fairtrade. In fact, we're a Fairtrade University.

Our disposables are biodegradable. Our food prep and plate waste is collected and taken to an anaerobic digester at Langage farm. Due to our food waste being carefully monitored, and stock ordered in fresh every few days, there is very little near/on date food that is wasted. Any consumable food waste left is donated to local women’s and children's refuge.

Growing your own

Whether you're a student or member of staff, we encourage you to grow your own. The Student Union Allotment society started in 2011, and has now expanded to over 12 beds - with seating logs and a shed full of tools for use. The society has exciting plans to increase the current vegetable beds and to renovate part of the allotment into an area dedicated to mental wellbeing. We also have growing space right here on campus, organised by the Centre for Sustainable Futures and UPSU. It's closely connected with the agenda to use outdoor space on campus as a teaching and learning resource, getting closer to nature. See Plymouth Growing Futures (PGF) pages for more information.

Food in the city

We're closely connected to the food agenda evolving in the city. Plymouth sits against a backdrop of lower life expectancy than the national average, as well as pronounced differences between the richest and poorest wards. Providing community access to healthy food is a major issue for the city. 

Helping to solve these inequalities with access to healthy food is Food Plymouth – a city-wide, cross-sector partnership of organisations and businesses working to support Plymouth’s journey to becoming a Sustainable Food City. We were an initial funding partner, and are still actively supporting Food Plymouth’s mission. In 2014, Food Plymouth took the city of Plymouth to achieve Bronze Sustainable Food City Status, and they are now working with city businesses and community groups to achieve the Silver standard. 

More information on our cafes and menu options, and Fairtrade.

Sustainable Association Reports

Please see the audit reports produced by the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Sustainable Food Cities

The Sustainable Food Cities Network is a rapidly growing movement of towns and cities, boroughs and counties taking a joined-up partnership approach to promoting healthy and sustainable food.

Learn more about Food Plymouth