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Food & Living Initiatives

Sustainable Food Program 

Stanford Dining purchases sustainably raised foods from the region as much as possible, supporting a diverse farming economy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from transportation, and protecting natural resources. A partnership with the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA Organics) helps support about 30 small farms that grow organic produce for Stanford.

R&DE Stanford Dining prioritizes food purchases that are organic, local, humanely raised, fairly traded, and/or from family-owned farms and sustainable fisheries.

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Sustainable Food Sourcing

Stanford Dining promotes vegetarian and vegan meals, which require less energy and fewer resources to produce. A plant-forward and plant-based protein menu for the dining halls reduced the amount of animal proteins purchased by 14% and increased plant-based protein purchases by 29% in 2015. Other sustainable purchasing commitments include: all beef is grass fed with no antibiotics; all chicken (except chicken breasts) is antibiotic and hormone free, humanely raised, and local; and many produce items, including kale and beets, come from a local, organic, educational farm.

Campus Gardening

Student gardeners tend organic gardens outside every major dining hall to educate students about the seasonality of food and methods of sustainable food production. Food grown by staff and students at the O'Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm is regularly incorporated into Stanford Dining menus and campus members can grow their own food at one of the more than 150 community garden plots on campus.


All dining halls and many cafés collect food waste, which is composted and returned to campus for use in the gardens, farm and landscaping. In 2007, Stanford composted just over 1300 tons of food waste. In addition, Stanford Dining gives leftover usable food to programs such as SPOON (Stanford Project on Hunger) to distribute to community organizations. Stanford Dining is also working with the Zero Waste Sustainability Working Team and student organizations to collect food waste and compostable serviceware at all campus cafes.

Waste Reduction

Stanford reduces waste and recycles whenever possible and educates students through the “Love Food, Hate Waste” campaign. Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) provide compost and recycling bins and use compostable to-go containers and serviceware. We reduced plate sizes as well as food portions, implemented a voluntary trayless campaign, and hosted a food waste competition to raise awareness and reduce food waste on campus. Waste oil from dining halls and cafes – about 10,000 gallons a year – is converted to biodiesel fuel. Meal plan students receive reusable beverage containers to reduce the use of disposable water bottles and coffee cups.


Raising awareness about sustainability is key to changing behavior. Education efforts include Sustainable Seafood Week, Environmental Faculty Dinner Series, a partnership with the Ethics in Society Program to bring outside experts like Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle to campus, visits to local organic farms with both staff and students, and hands-on workshops in campus gardens. R&DE Stanford Dining launched the Teaching Kitchen @ Stanford with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation in January 2015. Through this program, students are taught the fundamentals of cooking delicious and healthy meals, learning how to eat more sustainably while building confidence in their cooking skills.

Sustainable Living Program

The Sustainable Living Program is committed to influencing generations of students to lead sustainable lifestyles, not only on campus but in their future communities. R&DE Student Housing does this by providing infrastructure that encourages sustainable living. 

The R&DE Sustainable Living Program collaborates with students and staff to foster behavior change, reduce energy and water consumption and waste production in campus residences. 


Water Conservation

R&DE Student Housing led an irrigation retrofit project in 2015 that included replacing all irrigation equipment, over 20,000 pieces, across its 57 acres of landscape with more efficient models; this is expected to save 33 million gallons of water per year, a 46% reduction in R&DE’s irrigation water use.

Waste Reduction

The Kappa Sigma fraternity house became the first residence at Stanford completely outfitted to support a zero-waste lifestyle in all spaces. The house’s landfill capacity outside was cut in half, and compost and recycling capacity doubled.  Zero-waste systems are now being rolled out across campus.

Green Cleaning

Delta Delta Delta sorority house became the first residence at Stanford to completely eliminate chemical usage for cleaning by installing the Tersano green cleaning system, which uses an ozone-infused water solution that is just as powerful as traditional cleaners. After a successful pilot, green cleaning systems are being rolled out to all houses on campus.  In addition to reducing cleaner packaging, the ozine solution is much safer for custodian and occupant health and reduces the impact of chemicals on the environment.  

Sustainable Move Out

The annual Give & Go program, which seeks to reduce waste sent to landfill as students move out at the end of the academic year, partners with regional organizations to donate gently used items to communities in need.  Each year the program diverts over 50 tons of materials from the landfill.