R&DE Stanford Dining’s 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 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:
Read about One Plate, One Planet in detail in our overview document.
R&DE Stanford Dining 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.)
- Stanford Wins Top Place for Reducing Food Waste
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.
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 SF Greasecycle.
- 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. As of August 2017, we had saved over 3.7 million gallons of water since 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 has recently joined 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 have recently joined 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.