R&DE Stanford Dining, Hospitality & Auxiliaries' award-winning Sustainable Food Program, One Plate, One Planet, collaborates on many aspects of complex global food systems—from equitable supply chains, climate-smart dining, and regenerative agriculture, to reducing food waste and shifting diets towards plant-forward options. We believe that with each plate we serve, and each meal our students eat, we have the opportunity to create a better future for this planet together.
R&DE Stanford Dining, Hospitality & Auxiliaries demonstrates that sustainable, ethical, and healthy food systems can be deployed at scale, while simultaneously inspiring the next generation to improve how Earth’s precious resources are managed.
One Plate, One Planet represents these six pillars:
- Climate-smart dining. We are encouraged and motivated by the fact that food plays a critical role in reversing global warming, from plant-forward menus to food waste reduction, as well as the positive potential impact of the physical spaces where we all eat and gather.
- Racial equity and supporting Black businesses. Stanford Dining leverages its institutional purchasing power to help reverse the disappearance of Black farms. 98% of Black agricultural landowners have been dispossessed since the 1950s. Today, less than one percent of all farmland is owned by Black farmers. Stanford Dining is committed to helping Black farmers overcome historical barriers--such as systemic racism in lending and access to land and capital--as well as the related inequities caused by these barriers, such as insufficient access to traditional markets and distribution channels. Our vision is to share the purchasing model we develop and disseminate toolkits widely among both Black farmers and college and university foodservice leaders, so that the model can be scaled across the campus dining sector. Our hope is for every volume foodservice purchasing department to think of equitable supply chains in the same way they think about local purchasing: the norm, just as it is to buy local. Long term, the idea is to expand the purchasing model to support Black businesses more broadly, and ultimately increase supply chain diversity across other important underrepresented groups.
- Curbing deforestation through supply chain pressure. Through our sourcing decisions, we are committed to helping ensure the carbon-sequestering power of forests and the essential biodiversity they house remain intact.
- Thriving oceans. Partnering with leading academic researchers across the Stanford campus can give us the tools to source sustainably and actively play a role in the global supply chain to support sustainable fisheries management, responsible aquaculture, emerging technologies, and an abundance of delicious, nutritious, biodiverse plant-based foods from the sea.
- Catalyzing a circular economy of food. We embrace the principles of a circular economy, which are: design out waste and pollution; keep products and materials in use; and regenerate natural systems. We aim to channel resources toward circularity especially as it relates to the twin crises of overreliance on single-use plastics and food waste.
- Embracing systems thinking, upstream thinking, and minimizing unintended consequences. Food systems are not linear. They are complex, intricate webs of players and levers, sub-systems and multi-directional relationships. We believe in the potential of multi-solving: addressing multiple imperatives--from human health and nutrition to racial justice and gender equity, from water footprint and carbon footprint to animal welfare and workplace conditions--through strategic shifts in our operations.
Read about One Plate, One Planet in detail in our overview document.
R&DE Stanford Dining, Hospitality & Auxiliaries is proud to be a leader in sustainability and pioneering efforts to promote more sustainable diets and food systems. We recognize that food systems account for about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions globally, and we work to reduce our food-related environmental impact through innovative procurement strategies, food waste reduction, and promotion of more plant-forward food choices. These strategies are among the most impactful paths we can take, as Project Drawdown ranks reducing food waste the #1 solution for reversing global warming; it ranks shifting to plant-rich diets as the #3 most effective solution. These rankings cover 80+ potential solutions spanning transportation, energy, buildings, and beyond—which underscores a driving motivation for us as an organization: the often overlooked but tremendous power of food as a tool for climate action.
We have developed our Sustainable Food Ethos to establish a practical framework and an ongoing process to guide decision-making in support of sustainable food systems. These guidelines take into account the best interest of our environment, the social and economic systems on which our food depends, and the health of those to whom we serve food. Our guidelines are informed by the most current science and research available and draw upon the input and involvement of many stakeholders within our campus community with the goal of improving the overall health, safety, security, and sustainability of our food supply. Learn more about Sustainable Food @Stanford By the Numbers and How to Eat Sustainably on Campus.
Additional links that tell our sustainability story:
- Sustainability at Stanford: 2020-2021 Year in Review (See the Living and Eating Sustainably section highlighting R&DE Stanford Dining’s initiatives.)
Whenever possible we prefer to purchase food that is:
- Agroecological: We prefer to source from farms that plant a diverse number of crops, as opposed to a monoculture, and employ agroecological methods of farming that protect and enhance soil health and biodiversity, and that protect and preserve ecosystems.
- Direct: We prefer to purchase food directly from independently-owned growers, producers and manufacturers. We value knowing who grows our food and having direct relationships with them so that we can improve and learn together. We also prioritize purchasing food from women and/or minority owned businesses.
- Fair: We prefer food that is grown in environments that treat their workers fairly and respectfully, comply with all labor laws, provide safe work environments, and do not employ slave labor. We prefer Fair Trade certified products over those that are not certified.
- Humane: We prefer meat and dairy products from animals that are treated humanely and allowed to express their natural behaviors. We prefer products that have a third-party humane certification, such as Food Alliance, Global Animal Partnership, and Certified Humane.
- Local/Regional: We prefer food that is grown, raised, or processed locally in order to sustain our local economies (especially supporting small and mid-sized farms and companies) and minimize transport, especially of fresh fruit and vegetables. We define three tiers of location: local is within 150 miles, regional is within 250 miles, and statewide refers to California grown produce. Given the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting our local economies and participating in our regional foodsheds is of only greater importance as we all navigate these difficult times.
- Organic: We prefer organically grown food to minimize exposure to harmful pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and chemical fertilizers for our customers, farmworkers, pollinators and wildlife, and the environment.
- Raised without Antibiotics & Hormones: We prefer meat, dairy items, and seafood from animals that were never given hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics (unless sick and under the advice of a veterinarian).
- Sustainable Fisheries: Seafood must be sustainably raised in a way that allows the fishery to sustain itself for future generations without damaging the environment, overfishing, catching bycatch, or using slave labor. We prefer family fisheries that provide economic growth in their communities. We ensure that all of our seafood is Seafood Watch best choices or good alternatives.
Food Waste Prevention
As part of the climate-smart dining pillar of our One Plate, One Planet program, we focus on the opportunity to not only reduce food waste but to prevent it in the first place. Our Food Waste Prevention Playbook captures the full array of strategies we employ to minimize food waste—from committing to long-term action to collecting and analyzing data, from cultivating a culture of food waste prevention and engaging students to operationalizing best practices.
Food Choice Architecture
In R&DE Stanford Dining, Hospitality & Auxiliaries, we know that the campus food environment plays a critical role in determining the health and wellbeing of our students and the environmental impact of our food programs. Food choice architecture encompasses all aspects of how foods are offered and framed in the dining halls, and how these considerations influence food selection. We utilize food choice architecture strategies to design health and sustainability into our dining programs, making healthier and more sustainable choices easier, more prominent and more desirable while still offering a wide range of food options. Learn more about how we promote a healthier and more sustainable campus food environment in our Food Choice Architecture Playbook.
R&DE Stanford Dining is committed to sustainable operations that reduce our consumption of resources, generate as little waste as possible, and responsibly reuse any resource waste that we do generate. Programs to promote sustainable operations include:
- Reducing Food-Related GHG emissions: We recognize that food systems account for about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions globally, and we work to reduce our food-related environmental impact through innovative procurement strategies, food waste reduction, and promotion of more plant-forward food choices.
- Composting & Animal Feed: All dining halls collect pre- and post-production food waste and send it to an off-site facility that converts the food waste to pig feed. All non-food compostables in R&DE are also composted off-site. This diverts waste from the landfill and results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
- Recycling: R&DE Stanford Dining recycles paper, corrugated cardboard, plastic bags, aluminum cans, glass bottles and jars, tins cans, and aseptic containers from all of our dining facilities.
- Food Donations: R&DE Stanford Dining donates leftover edible food to partner agencies in the Bay Area.
- Waste Oil to Biodiesel: Waste oil from the dining halls — roughly 7,000 gallons a year — is converted to biodiesel by SeQuential.
- Energy Conservation: To conserve energy, our Dining in the Daylight program promotes using available sunlight during daytime hours. The program resulted from a collaborative project with the student-run Green Living Council and saves 20,735 kWh every year. When daylight is not available, we rely upon energy efficient LED bulbs, have been installed in all dining halls.
- Water Conservation: R&DE Stanford Dining works closely with LBRE to identify opportunities and technologies to reduce our water consumption. Our efforts have led to an annual reduction of about 21% as compared to a baseline year of 2013.
The BeWell Community Gardens are open to the Stanford community and are managed by Residential & Dining Enterprises. The gardens are part of Stanford’s BeWell program. We have two gardens, one near the Medical School and one near the Munger Complex for a total of more than 150 individual garden plots spanning one acre of land. For more information, visit the BeWell Community Gardens webpage.
Stanford Residential & Dining Enterprises is a proud member of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC), co-founded and jointly led by Stanford University and The Culinary Institute of America. The MCURC is a collaboration of forward-thinking scholars, food service leaders, executive chefs, and administrators for colleges and universities who are accelerating efforts to move people toward healthier, more sustainable, and delicious foods using evidence-based research, education, and innovation. Together, we are working to find best practices and operational innovations that support the MCURC’s vision of cultivating the long-term well-being of all the people and the planet—one student, one meal at a time. On our own campus, at every meal and in every unit of Stanford Dining, we strive to operationalize the Menus of Change Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus: a holistic, evidence-based framework for menu concepts, operations, foods, and ingredients that is put forward by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Furthermore, the Collaborative’s Collective Impact Initiative has set a collective target across member institutions’ combined protein purchases to reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030. Stanford Dining both learns from and contributes to impactful initiatives such as this within the MCURC.
The power of partnership: In addition to co-founding and jointly leading the MCURC, Stanford Dining’s history of sustainability-inspired partnerships and collaborations spans its membership in the Google Food Lab, Bay Area Sustainable Sourcing Group, and World Resources Institute’s Better Buying Lab. Building on this history, Stanford Dining is a member of Drawdown Labs, a consortium of private sector partners working to scale climate solutions. Stanford Dining is the first university-based member to be part of Drawdown Labs’ network of bold business leaders taking accelerated climate action. Members include Google, IDEO, Allbirds, Impossible, Intuit, and others.
Project Drawdown ranks reducing food waste the #1 solution for reversing global warming. With our membership announcement in Drawdown Labs, we are building on our long-standing initiatives reducing food waste by committing to further reduce Stanford Dining’s food waste by 25% by the end of 2022. Our partnership in Drawdown Labs will help us learn and shape not only long-term food waste targets but broader food-related climate targets over the months to come.
We are a member of REGEN1, a consortium of food system leaders in Northern California supporting farmers who are employing regenerative agriculture principles that improve air, water, and soil quality, enhance biodiversity, and prioritize greater inclusion and equity for all. We look forward to channeling these purchases to especially farmers of color, in alignment with our Black farmers initiative.