Students Celebrate Earth Day with Plant-Forward Feast

earth day dinner

Stanford Residential & Dining Enterprises hosted an Earth Day celebration and dinner at the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons on April 18. This year’s high quality, sustainable feast highlighted produce from Stanford Dining’s farm partners and included a Mediterranean station featuring tapenades and spreads, harissa-roasted cauliflower steaks, coconutty spiced chickpea stew, roasted turnip halves with pickled apples and much more. The plant-forward menu was designed not only to educate students’ palates but also to educate and empower their future eating habits.

“Our current meal plan students will consume approximately 250 million meals throughout their lifetime. One of Stanford Dining’s goals is to support the university’s academic mission by educating students about eating healthy and sustainable meals. We hope to positively influence their food choices after they go on to become leaders in business, communities and within their own families,” said Eric Montell, executive director of R&DE Stanford Dining.

Displayed throughout the servery next to corresponding dishes were cards promoting the  24 Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus such as Think Produce First, Move Legumes and Nuts to the Center of the Plate, and Serve Less Red Meat, Less Often. These principles are the foundation of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative, co-founded by Stanford University. They guide Stanford Dining's menu strategy: make delicious, nutritious and sustainable food the norm for students. The cards were a chance to illustrate to students that making even small dietary changes can help preserve our planet's resources and doesn't mean sacrificing taste, said Stanford Dining Executive Chef Erica Holland Toll.

Kaili Wang ’23 didn’t need much convincing. “Anything with vegetables, I’m down. I can’t remember the last time I ate a steamed artichoke. I love peeling off the petals and dipping them into the green garlic aioli.”

In addition to the dinner, students learned about food and the environment, partook in eco-crafts and planted seeds. Every great night ends with free swag and this event didn't disappoint –  thanks to helpful Dining Ambassadors, guests made their own herb salt with thyme and rosemary plucked from the Stanford Dining organic teaching gardens.  

Students couldn't resist the build-your-own mud pie station, complete with gummy worms.

Spot the queen bee at the hive inspection station, courtesy of Planet Bee Foundation which helps maintains campus beehives.