Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 88.00
Liaison Sam Lubow
Submission Date Feb. 22, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Stanford University
OP-8: Sustainable Dining

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Moira Hafer
Sustainability Specialist
Office of Sustainability
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Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a published sustainable dining policy?:

A brief description of the sustainable dining policy:

Serving seasonal, sustainable, healthy and culturally diverse food, R&DE offers options and accommodates food preferences for a diverse student, faculty, staff, and visitor population. R&DE is committed to meaningfully participating in the education of the world’s future leaders by sharing knowledge and creating awareness of food culture, food systems, and food production. R&DE serves foods that are grown using sound environmental practices and encourage biodiversity with earth friendly systems from farms that respect the land and are committed to ensuring our future generation's food supply without compromise.

A list of our sustainability commitments and food ethos is available online here: https://rde.stanford.edu/dining/sustainable-purchasing

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor source food from a campus garden or farm?:

A brief description of the program to source food from a campus garden or farm:

R&DE Stanford Dining has ten organic teaching gardens, and multiple dorms and coops have student-run gardens as well. Stanford Dining also has a greenhouse in one dining hall and hydroponic towers in another dining hall. Student garden managers plant and harvest produce that is used in the dining halls.

The R&DE Stanford Dining organic teaching gardens offer multiple garden work days a week in addition to workshops to teach students how to grow their own produce.

In addition, the Seed Library run by R&DE Stanford Dining gives students and the Stanford community free seeds each month that they can plant at home or in the gardens by their dorms. Over 1,800 people get our monthly email that highlights a seed that is in season and over 200 people subscribe to the Seed of the Month club and get seeds mailed to them via interoffice email.

In 2014, the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences established the 6 acre O'Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm. The farm is a living laboratory offering academic and experiential learning opportunities for the Stanford community and beyond. The farm utilizes agroecological relationships and natural diversity to grow over 200 varieties of vegetables, flowers, herbs, field crops and fruit. Students come to the farm to test new ideas about the biological, social and environmental aspects of farming and gain experience in the practice of sustainable agriculture. On-farm research provides students hands-on learning opportunities. Over the course of a year, the farm harvests over 15,000 pounds of organically-grown produce, and R&DE buys about 12,000 pounds per year. Those crops feed into the farm-to-campus program, with fresh vegetables featured at R&DE Stanford Dining in the dining halls, in campus cafes, in catering, and at the Teaching Kitchen @ Stanford.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host a farmers market, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery program, and/or urban agriculture project, or support such a program in the local community?:

A brief description of the farmers market, CSA or urban agriculture project:

Stanford hosts a few local farm CSAs on campus. The R&DE Sustainable Food Program has created a list of on-campus and nearby CSAs and farmers markets and a corresponding map to make it easier for community members to find these CSAs and farmers markets.

Stanford hosts a weekly farmers market in front of Tressider Student Union on Tuesdays.

R&DE recently launched a program that supports two small, emerging farms in Stanford’s regional foodshed. The Farm Accelerator program is designed to create an innovative business model that supports underserved minority family farmers in the community and helps them to create a viable organic farming business. This is a three-year startup model where R&DE agrees to purchase most of the produce grown on these farms to allow them to grow and become established businesses. After three years, it will take on new farms to support them in this same way. In 2018, R&DE bought organic produce from Oya Organics and organic strawberries from Magana Farm- both women owned, small, local, and organic farms.

In 2017, R&DE also bought organic produce directly from a local farm, Pie Ranch. This direct institutional CSA model relationship helps the farm manage their finances and products. For the past three years, R&DE has had a direct relationship with Coke Farm, a local, organic farm and farm hub that sources from about 50 small and medium sized local farms. It buys “Deliciously Imperfect” produce from them.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a vegan dining program that makes diverse, complete-protein vegan options available to every member of the campus community at every meal?:

A brief description of the vegan dining program:

R&DE Stanford Dining provides vegan meals in all dining halls every day. The dining halls have “Performance Dining” options that are all vegetarian, with at least one or two vegan options at lunch and dinner. Each Performance Dining area has a bean or tofu dish, whole grain dish, vegetable side, and leafy greens dish.

The dining halls are designed with intent to create optimal eating choices through choice architecture and behavioral economics. The performance bar encourages students to make healthy choices first by having them go through the salad bar, vegan, and vegetarian stations first.

R&DE Stanford Dining always provides at least one vegetarian soup, and many are vegan as well. Each of the 11 dining halls also has a make-your-own salad bar with homemade salad dressings. R&DE Stanford Dining labels all vegetarian and vegan options.

R&DE Stanford Hospitality and Auxiliaries has vegan and vegetarian options in all cafes, catering operations, and concessions on campus. Forbes Family Café prominently features vegan dishes as part of its earth-friendly flexitarian theme.

Both R&DE Stanford Dining and Stanford Hospitality and Auxiliaries’ dining facilities are open to all members of the campus community and their guests.

In 2018, Stanford dining made the Peta2 Dean's List with an A+ rating.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host low impact dining events (e.g. Meatless Mondays)?:

A brief description of the low impact dining events:

R&DE continues to run the Teaching Kitchen @ Stanford, a groundbreaking cooking education program available to the Stanford University community. The 9-week hands-on cooking classes have sustainability information woven into the curriculum, with a focus on vegan and vegetarian dishes. The students visit the organic teaching garden and use produce in their cooking lessons from the garden.

The Florence Moore Dining Hall’s weekly chef’s table is sold out every week and features a fully vegan menu.

R&DE Stanford Dining’s Tasting Table engages students in learning, trying and tasting ingredients. Several times each week there are menu items or ingredients for students to sample on the tasting table, most of which are vegetarian, if not vegan. R&DE's chefs, nutritionist and sustainable food program manager have designated days where they are working this table.

The R&DE Sustainable Food Program hosts intimate meals with farmers and producers as part of the Know Your Food program- many of which focus on vegan products or producers.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host sustainability-themed meals (e.g. local harvest dinners)?:

A brief description of the sustainability-themed meals:

R&DE Stanford Dining hosts an Earth Day meal every April that focuses on the local farms and sustainable fisheries and farms that we work with. This event is open to the community and over 1,000 students attend. Sustainability is incorporated in other special meals, such as Lunar New Year through purchasing. Thanksgiving dinner is another meal where local, seasonal, and organic produce and farms are highlighted.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor host a sustainability-themed food outlet on-site, either independently or in partnership with a contractor or retailer?:

A brief description of the sustainability-themed food outlet:

The Forbes Family Café, run by R&DE, is focused on earth-friendly flexitarian dishes. Most dishes are vegan and vegetarian, and produce is sourced as locally as possible, including from the O’Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm. Munger Market, a small market run by R&DE, also focuses on sustainable foods, such as Fair Trade chocolates, local produce, and organic nuts and fruit.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor inform customers about low impact food choices and sustainability practices through labeling and signage in dining halls?:

A brief description of the sustainability labeling and signage in dining halls:

Through R&DE’s Sustainable Food Program and Performance Dining Program, sustainability education is interwoven into the fabric of the dining halls. Menus are labeled with vegetarian and vegan items as well as organic, local, and sustainable ingredients.

R&DE partners with faculty and work with researchers on all types of programs. Its most recent research project focused on the language of food using descriptive words to increase vegetable consumption which increased vegetable consumption by over 10% just through using descriptive language. This study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

All dining halls have TV screens that have sustainability signage related to events, farms, fisheries, or other information. R&DE Stanford Dining publishes a tabletop newsletter every two weeks, which features sustainability information in every issue. The newsletter is also available by email and the information is also on R&DE Stanford Dining’s Facebook page. The Sustainable Food Program publishes a monthly educational email newsletter that goes to over 1,800 community members.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor engage in outreach efforts to support learning and research about sustainable food systems?:

A brief description of the outreach efforts to support learning and research about sustainable food systems:

R&DE’s Sustainable Food Program continues to co-teach a class in Earth Systems with the FEED Collaborative called Grow It. Cook It. Eat It. It focuses on teaching students about sustainable food, design thinking to solve problems, growing food, and cooking food. The final project focused on creating vegan dining hall dishes that would appeal to students through using the design thinking process.

R&DE works with students in numerous classes and departments for class projects, research project, theses, and capstone projects that focus on operations, purchasing, or education in the dining halls. Students are very interested in learning more about how the food they eat is grown, cooked, and ultimately disposed of. The Sustainable Food Program works on about 25 class projects each year in classes ranging from The Global Warming Paradox to Design for Extreme Affordability.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have other sustainability-related initiatives (e.g. health and wellness initiatives, making culturally diverse options available)?:

A brief description of the other sustainability-related dining initiatives:

R&DE focuses on sustainability education research locally, regionally, nationally, and globally through the following initiatives.

R&DE leads the Bay Area Sustainable Sourcing Group, co-founded with Google, and includes university and tech company members, such as Airbnb, to educate our staff on sustainable food issues from leading experts and collaborate on best practices for sustainable initiatives.

R&DE co-founded and co-leads the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC) with the Culinary Institute of America. The MCURC is a network of 60 universities, sponsors and ex officio members such as Google, US Navy and US Olympic training center who are working on creating healthier and more sustainable food in college and university dining. One of its unique characteristics is its professional committees made up of senior university administrators, dining directors, executive chefs and researchers. This is the only space where these diverse groups are working together as they are typically working within silos within their roles on campus. This collaborative is designed to accelerate innovation in sustainability and nutrition in colleges and universities. Stanford also co-leads a quarterly sustainability-themed educational webinar for all members.

Stanford R&DE is also part of the World Resources Institute’s Better Buying Lab. This is a cross section of multiple global food service segments such as Hilton, Sodexo, Panera, Stanford, Google and others who, along with experts from marketing and behavior economics, research, test, and scale activity that shifts consumers toward eating less meat (especially beef and lamb) and more plant food.

Included in R&DE's work with MCURC and the Better Buying Lab is its blended burger program, where 30% of the beef in the burgers have been replaced with mushroom, in order to boost flavor while reducing the greenhouse gas impacts of the dish.

R&DE has a full-time sustainable food program manager who runs the Sustainable Food Program. The Sustainable Food Program is a collaborative effort that includes strategic partnerships with vendors and suppliers, students, staff, faculty and other campus stakeholders. Through these partnerships, the Sustainable Food Program seeks to create positive impact across these main areas:
1. purchasing and reporting within established budgets and sustainability guidelines;
2. education and outreach by lecturing, teaching, hosting sustainability events, training staff and acting as subject matter experts;
3. collaboration with various groups, including students, R&DE division partners, faculty, community partners, and supply chain partners;
4. sustainable operations include kitchen sustainability audits and food waste reduction.

R&DE has won numerous awards for its Sustainable Food Program including the following:
• R&DE Stanford Dining became only the third university dining program in the country to receive a 4 Star Green Restaurant Certification by the Green Restaurant Association for environmental accomplishments at its Florence Moore Dining Hall.
• R&DE Stanford Dining was the first university certified by the United States Healthful Food Council as a Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) restaurant for its use of nutrition and sustainability best practices.
• R&DE Stanford Dining was the 2015 recipient of the Hobart Center for Food Sustainability Grant for being the most innovative and best-executed foodservice sustainability organization of the year.
• R&DE Stanford Dining was certified as a green business by Santa Clara County.
• R&DE Stanford Dining won the Acterra Business Environmental Award for Sustainability

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor participate in a competition or commitment program and/or use a food waste prevention system to track and improve its food management practices?:

A brief description of the food recovery competition or commitment program or food waste prevention system:

As part of R&DE Stanford Dining’s “Love Food Hate Waste” program, all dining halls have LeanPath systems. Stanford Dining is part of the U.S. EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge.

In 2017, Stanford Dining significantly scaled up its food donation program with the help of student interns to include all dining halls. A Stanford Report article highlighting this initiative is available here: https://news.stanford.edu/2018/05/29/stanford-donates-surplus-food-community-groups-campus-wide-program/
Staff are trained on proper waste sorting and waste reduction at new staff on-boardings and quarterly trainings.

Stanford Dining is committed to reducing food waste throughout all parts of the food system. One way we do this is through its “Deliciously Imperfect” program. It has been working with 60 small, local, organic farms to source “ugly produce” that is deemed too large, too small, misshapen, miscolored, or scarred and unsellable.

Has the institution or its primary dining services contractor implemented trayless dining (in which trays are removed from or not available in dining halls) and/or modified menus/portions to reduce post-consumer food waste?:

A brief description of the trayless dining or modified menu/portion program:

Stanford Dining has implemented trayless dining in all dining halls.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor donate food that would otherwise go to waste to feed people?:

A brief description of the food donation program:

R&DE donates leftover usable food to multiple organizations in the area, and significantly expanded the program in 2016 to include most dining halls, two cafes, and large events. R&DE has partnered directly with non-profits and churches to pick up food. Additionally, volunteers from Peninsula Food Runners pick up food weekly from locations and deliver it to partners.

R&DE partners with a student-run program SPOON (Stanford Project on Hunger) to donate food from dining halls, cafes, and events, including football games, which was added in 2017 with the assistance of the Office of Sustainability. R&DE has a few interns who works to help coordinate the food donation program and weigh food donation, along with student volunteers from Students for a Sustainable Stanford. In 2018, nearly 5,000 pounds of food were donated to local homeless shelters from Stanford Stadium alone.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor divert food materials from the landfill, incinerator or sewer for animal feed or industrial uses (e.g. converting cooking oil to fuel, on-site anaerobic digestion)?:

A brief description of the food materials diversion program:

R&DE recycles all cooking oil from dining halls, dorms, cafes, and catering into biofuel through a partnership with SF Greasecycle.

Additionally, food from the dining halls often goes to the Sustainable Alternative Feed Enterprises program in San Jose, which converts the food to dehydrated animal feed, oil, and water.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a pre-consumer composting program?:

A brief description of the pre-consumer composting program:

All R&DE kitchens have pre-consumer composting programs. Staff are trained when they join R&DE and at quarterly trainings to ensure the compost bins are used properly and the compost is not contaminated.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor have a post-consumer composting program?:

A brief description of the post-consumer composting program:

Stanford annually composts over 3 million pounds of food waste from its dining halls and other campus eateries. A major focus of the Sustainable Food Program is to reduce the impact of R&DE’s operations through efficiency measures, education of staff and customers, collaborative efforts with partners across campus, and creative design solutions to complex behavioral challenges. The pre and post-consumer composting program is an ideal example of these initiatives.

As part of the “Love Food, Hate Waste” program, the dining halls have post-consumer disposal stations where students scrape their own plates into compost containers before placing the dishware in the dishroom. The compost bins are open so students are able to see individually and collectively the amount of food that is being wasted.

R&DE uses newsletters, emails, and social media to discuss and highlight food waste issues.

Post-consumer composting is also the standard in all R&DE cafes and many catered events where compost bins exist.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor utilize reusable service ware for “dine in” meals?:

A brief description of the reusable service ware program:

R&DE Stanford Dining uses only reusable serviceware in the dining halls. Stanford Dining also gives all new students on the meal plan and dining hall staff a reusable mug at the beginning of the year.

All R&DE dining halls have gone trayless and have reduced the size of plates and glasses in the dining halls to encourage taking only the food that students will eat.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor provide reusable and/or third party certified compostable containers and service ware for “to-go” meals (in conjunction with an on-site composting program)?:

A brief description of the compostable containers and service ware:

When needed, such as special events and Late Night dining, (which is a to-go operation) R&DE Stanford Dining uses only BPI-certified compostable wares. All dining halls have compost bins to ensure the compostable wares are composted.

R&DE Stanford Hospitality & Auxiliaries uses BPI-certified compostable products (cups, plates, bowls, and straws) in all cafes and catering on campus. All R&DE cafes and many non R&DE cafes have full recycling and composting programs for customers.

In addition, a list of compostable break room supplies is available online so individual office buildings can stock their offices with compostable to-go products: http://sustainable.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/Breakroom%20supplies.pdf
R&DE also sells compostable products to students for parties and events through Catering.

Does the institution or its primary dining services contractor offer discounts or other incentives to customers who use reusable containers (e.g. mugs) instead of disposable or compostable containers in “to-go” food service operations?:

A brief description of the reusable container discount or incentives program:

R&DE Stanford Dining provides reusable cups to all incoming freshmen and transfer students to help reduce disposable bottled beverage consumption on campus. Students can use these containers to receive discounts at most campus cafes (discount value varies by location). A student sustainability group inventoried and made a list of these venues available to the student body.

Has the institution or its primary dining services contractor implemented other materials management initiatives to minimize waste not covered above (e.g. working with vendors and other entities to reduce waste from food packaging)?:

A brief description of other dining services materials management initiatives:

Produce from the O’Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm is delivered in reusable containers.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.