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Food & Living

As Stanford’s largest auxiliary department, Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) includes Student Housing, Stanford Dining, Hospitality & Auxiliaries, and Stanford Conferences. R&DE is the largest provider of food service on campus, serving more than six million meals annually. 

R&DE's Sustainable Living and Sustainable Food Program help to embed sustainable behaviors and choices into the daily habits of students, provide sustainable,  humane, and socially-responsible foods whenever possible, reduce waste in operations, and educate the community. Learn more about ongoing initiatives.


View the latest Sustainability Year in Review for more detailed information on yearly performance.

  • R&DE Stanford Dining coordinated 11,500 pounds produce and 500 bunches of flowers provided to R&DE staff and faculty, and supporting 6 student programs, with CSA boxes from the Stanford O’Donohue Educational Farm.
  • Stanford Dining reached an exciting purchasing milestone, as 89% of all meat and poultry purchased was certified humanely raised.
  • Stanford Dining launched its One Plate, One Planet vision for the next chapter of its award-winning sustainable food program. The program 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. One Plate, One Planet represents these six pillars: 
    • climate-smart dining, especially food waste reduction and advancing plant-forward diets;
    • racial equity and supporting Black businesses; 
    • curbing deforestation through supply chain pressure; 
    • thriving oceans; 
    • catalyzing a circular economy of food; 
    • and embracing systems thinking.

R&DE believes that with each plate they serve, and each meal their students eat, they 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

  • Stanford continued its leadership of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC), a global network of colleges and universities, plus ex-officio members such as Google and LinkedIn, and research collaborators such as the World Resources Institute, EAT, Food for Climate League, ReFED, and Collectively, the group serves 800,000 meals per day, and current students in these universities will consume 15 billion meals in their lifetimes. Co-founded and jointly led by Stanford University and The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), 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, they 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 the Stanford campus, at every meal and in every unit of Stanford Dining, they 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 CIA 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.

  • Stanford Dining launched a Black Farmers Purchasing Program. Stanford Dining leverages its institutional purchasing power to help reverse the disappearance of Black farms. 98% of Black agricultural landowners have been dispossessed since the 1950s. Today, less than one percent of all farmland is owned by Black farmers. Stanford Dining is committed to helping Black farmers overcome historical barriers--such as systemic racism in lending and access to land and capital--as well as the related inequities caused by these barriers, such as insufficient access to traditional markets and distribution channels. Their vision is to share the purchasing model they develop and disseminate toolkits widely among both Black farmers and college and university foodservice leaders, so that the model can be scaled across the campus dining sector. Their hope is for every volume foodservice purchasing department to think of equitable supply chains in the same way they think about local purchasing: the norm, just as it is to buy local. Long term, the idea is to expand the purchasing model to support Black businesses more broadly, and ultimately increase supply chain diversity across other important underrepresented groups.

  • Building on its history of sustainability-inspired partnerships, Stanford Dining 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. Stanford Dining has also accepted the invitation to co-lead Drawdown Labs’ Climate-Smart Food and Agriculture Working Group.

  • Project Drawdown ranks reducing food waste the #1 solution for reversing global warming. With Stanford Dining’s membership announcement in Drawdown Labs, they have built on their long-standing initiatives reducing food waste by committing to further reduce Stanford Dining’s food waste by 25% by the end of 2022. Their partnership in Drawdown Labs will help them learn and shape not only long-term food waste targets but broader food-related climate targets.

  • Stanford Dining 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. They look forward to channeling these purchases to especially farmers of color, in alignment with their Black farmers initiative.

  • In support of the university's zero waste goals, in 2020, R&DE’s Roble Hall became the first on campus to remove its landfill dumpster. The initiative illustrated the psychological effects of waste and behavior change. With waste sorting education, Roble residents were able to minimize their waste to only four landfill carts. More than 70 waste audits of the enclosure between September 2019 and March 2020, showed that the project reduced Roble’s landfill capacity by 83%, or by 40 cubic yards a month.

  • In 2020, R&DE opened the largest residential project in the Bay Area with enough beds to house 2,400 students. The four, 10 story buildings have a four stream waste chute to promote waste sorting, and students receive free composting buckets and compostable bags year round. There is specific collection for e-waste and to compost pizza boxes on the ground floors. Students have access to free green cleaning solution and laundry detergent in their laundry rooms, naturally made ozone, that safely converts back to drinkable water after 7 days. An advanced lighting system controls lights in all common areas so hallways, huddle rooms and lounges are only fully lit when students move through them.