Culinary Standards

The R&DE Stanford Dining menus are guided by a set of culinary standards developed in support of the Menus of Change principles and the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC), co-founded by R&DE and the Culinary Institute of America.

Overview of Menus of Change

In 2012, The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—Department of Nutrition together launched an ongoing initiative called Menus of Change: The Business of Healthy, Sustainable, Delicious Food Choices. The campaign aims to accelerate transformation within the foodservice industry by aligning leadership in nutrition and public health, environment and sustainability, culinary arts, and business innovation. By hosting an annual leadership summit, producing an annual report entitled “Charting the Future of Food & the Foodservice Industry,” and delivering year-round digital resources, Menus of Change has established itself as a thought leader, provided tools and guidance for culinary professionals, and actively engaged the foodservice industry. Each year, the annual report and leadership summit are developed in collaboration with leading scientists and business experts, who sit on the initiative's Scientific and Technical Advisory Council and Sustainable Business Leadership Council, to ensure the program and report content reflects the most current and accurate evidence available. Menus of Change promotes 24 Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus, and tracks progress in the foodservice industry through an annual scorecard of 15 issues, the Menus of Change Dashboard. Principles include, for example: “Globally Inspired, Largely Plant-Based Cooking;” “Designing Operations for the Future;” and “Cut the Salt.” Dashboard issues include, for example: “Portion Size and Caloric Intake;” “Fish, Seafood, and Oceans;” and “Supply Chain Resiliency and Transparency.” We encourage you to read the full lists and learn more at

Overview of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative

Founded and jointly led by Stanford University and The Culinary Institute of America, the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC) is a network of 224 members representing 64 industry leading institutions, including 57 member colleges and universities, 4 Research Collaborators, and 3 ex officio organizations.

The MCURC is a working group of scholars and campus dining leaders from invited colleges and universities interested in accelerating efforts to move American consumers—and college/university students, scholars, and staff in particular—toward menus that integrate both health and sustainability imperatives.

Vision: Cultivating the long-term wellbeing of people and the planet one student, one meal at a time.
Mission: 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.

This initiative leverages the unique position of universities to advance these types of life-long food choices among students—who will soon be parents and adult decision-makers—by connecting a diversity of insights from academic researchers, dining operators, and nutrition and sustainability managers.

R&DE Stanford Dining Culinary Standards

  1. Lead with Delicious Flavors
    Innovative menus and inspired cuisine must be delicious.
  2. Produce Centric
    Focus on fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables, including lots of leafy greens, and combinations of colorful fruits.
  3. Whole Foods
    Use whole, minimally processed foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole and intact grains.
  4. Plant-Based Proteins
    Increase the ratio of plant-based proteins in menus, with high-quality animal proteins being in a supporting role.
  5. Source Sustainable Animal Proteins
    Humane animal, sustainable environment and good labor practices are priorities when sourcing meats and seafood.
  6. Fresh and Seasonal Produce, both Local and Global
    Source fresh, peak-of-season foods from farms, which use sustainable growing practices, including local producers and those in more distant regions.
  7. Just-in-Time Cooking Techniques
    Use just-in-time cooking techniques, preparing our food fresh and in small batches just before service to ensure the best quality and eating experience.
  8. Right-sized Portions
    Right-sized and smaller portions offerings, which emphasize quality, flavor, and culinary adventure. Use Performance Dining standards when developing menus.
  9. Healthy Beverages
    Reduce sugary beverages and offer healthy house-made beverage alternatives such as spa waters or teas infused with fresh fruits, herbs and aromatics.
  10. Healthier Oils
    Prepare menus using healthy and beneficial plant oils such as olive and canola oils.
  11. Reduce Added Sugar and Salt
    Deliver flavor through high-flavor produce, aromatics, and healthy house-made sauces and dressings. Limit added salt and sugar when building flavor.
  12. Food Safety
    Maintain the highest standards of food safety through observing proper food service safety and sanitation procedures, regular employee training and HACCP compliance.
  13. Celebrate Cultural Diversity
    Savor culinary heritage while reimagining those elements of culturally-based food traditions that may be less healthy by limiting portion size, rebalancing ingredient proportions or offering these foods less often.
  14. Diverse Dietary Preferences
    Meal options accommodate a wide range of tastes and dietary needs including vegan, vegetarian, kosher, halal, and many other dietary requirements and preferences.
  15. Menu Transparency
    Inform customers how their food was produced, include information on labor, animal welfare, environmental practices and allergen information of the top 8 allergens plus gluten.