Sustainability, ecology, quality

Sustainability in general means using all resources (social, ecological and economic) responsibly. That implies using regenerative systems (cycles) in a way that makes it possible to keep the nature of those resources intact and have them regenerated naturally.

The Studentenwerk Dresden has been dealing with different topics concerning the idea of sustainability for several years. For example, by opening a cafeteria that only sells organic meals, a vegetarian day and the program MensaVital and also fair trade products and GMOs, which will be presented in the following list.

Drei Säulen der Nachhaltigkeit

Organic produce in the Studentenwerk Dresden

Terms like “organic” or “eco” are protected by a set of laws for ecological agriculture called “EG-Rechtsvorschriften”. If a product is advertised with the terms that were just mentioned, it has to comply with the regulations and the company has to be controlled and certified by a supervisory authority.

Bio Grünstempel - Ökoprüfstelle DE-ÖKO-021

Our BioMensa U-Boot has got this certification (Bio-Code-Number: DE-ÖKO-021). Only products that are certified as “organic” will be used to prepare meals and then sold. A certification is a very expensive process which, unfortunately, cannot be made affordable for all canteens since organic products have to be strictly separated from regular products, from delivery, to the storage and production up until the distribution. Hence, we decided to centralize our organic products in the canteen U-Boot.

There are also organic meals available in the other canteens that we are not allowed to advertise as such since they can be mixed with conventional produce. The food we use is strictly controlled by supervisory authorities. They surveil every step of the preparation of the products that are on their way to our canteens. This guarantees high transparency for the consumer.

Fit & Vital in the canteen Zeltschlösschen

The program Fit & Vital has been around for a couple of years and is becoming more and more popular, especially because the staff has consistently worked on improving the program. By introducing Fit & Vital, the weekly vegetarian day has been replaced by a program which provides you with a meatless option every day.

The canteen staff has had to visit workshops on how to prepare soy and seitan products. Our chefs are constantly working on recipes for vegetarian or vegan dishes.

The Neue Mensa offers a weekly plated portion with Fit & Vital. Moreover, there are four food components which can be varied with four different types of vegetables, two side dishes, two sauces, as well as mixture of salads from the salad bar. The main focus is put on offering vegetarian or vegan dishes that are low in fat and prepared with greatest care. Even though, the purpose is to serve vegetarian food, meat and fish will be sold in this program from time to time in order not to exclude any food type.


mensaVital is a project of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Produktentwicklung by the East German student unions and has by now become brand of the German student union.

mensaVital means:

  • A nutritionally enhanced and balanced combination of ingredients*
  • Fresh and organic ingredients
  • Vitamin-preserving and low-fat preparation
  • Our contribution to “5 a day”(5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day)
  • Carefully selected produce (whole wheat products, legumes, nuts, lean meat, crunchy, colorful vegetables)
  • Using high quality fats and oils
  • Using fresh herbs instead of dried spice mixtures
  • A balanced selection of meat, fish, vegan and vegetarian dishes in a week
  • No fried or breaded meals
  • No heavily industrially prepared products
  • No aromas and flavor enhancers
  • Creative recipes with seasonal products
  • A combination of regional and international culinary influences

* A portion at lunchtime correlates to the energy demand of an adult (19-65 years) at sedentary work.(physical activity level PAL = 1,4). (DGE Bonn; 2008, 1. Auflage; Qualitätsstandards für Betriebsverpflegung; S. 11)

Offering such menu lines is not very easy and complex. Fresh and little pre-prepared produce have a certain price und also demand a greater workload for the canteen staff. Even the recipes have to be followed strictly. But this is the only way to make sure that the portion sizes are right.

Fair Trade

Fair Trade is supposed to ameliorate the working conditions of small farmers and agricultural workers in rural areas. The Studentenwerk Dresden makes its own contribution to that by using almost only fair trade coffee in all canteens and cafeterias. This type of coffee is produced by organizations of small farmers in Central and South America where the workers receive a guaranteed minimum wage. The coffee is bought directly from the farmers to avoid intermediaries and possible shortfalls in revenues. Therefore, the producers have to commit to decide together about how the profits shall be used. Furthermore, they have to participate in sustainable development in the fields of ecology, education and promotion of women. The Studentenwerk has been working on this project for almost five years and has even incorporated fair trade chocolate bars into its range.


Organisms which were modified with methods of genetic engineering, are described as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Everything that is produced with GMOs, contains GMOs and/or itself is genetically modified has to be labeled according to the Regulation on genetically modified food and feed (VO 1829/2003/EG). Products that are labeled as such and VO 1830/2003 will not be used in our canteens.

The WWF consumer guide for sustainable seafood

Our seafood purchases comply with the standards of the WWF consumer guide for sustainable seafood. Not a single endangered fish species finds its way onto the menus our canteens and cafeterias.

Iodized salt

Iodine is a vital substance for human beings. It is mainly responsible for the formation of the thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodthyronine. To this day, the supply of iodine in Germany remains insufficient. For this reason all of our foods are salted with iodized salt.

The 10 guidelines of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung (DGE)

In order to help you maintain a healthy diet outside of our canteens and cafeterias, we would like to draw your attention to the 10 guidelines of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung (German Society for Nutrition) as well as to the food pyramid. Feel free to use these recommendations as an orientation guide for your own personal dietary plan.

  1. Maintain a well-balanced diet
  2. Plenty of grains & potatoes
  3. 5 fruit & vegetable servings a day
  4. Milk and dairy products on a daily basis
  5. Low amounts of fat and fatty foods
  6. Sugar and salt in moderation
  7. Plenty of water
  8. Prepare in a nutrient-preserving manner
  9. Take your time and enjoy your food
  10. Mind your weight and get lots of exercise


The food pyramid