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Food Purchases

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Scope 3 emissions from food are counted as emissions from Purchased Goods & Services and are defined as emissions that derive from the production, processing, and transportation of food to Stanford.

The Scope 3 Emissions Program and Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) Stanford Dining have jointly developed a robust and well-researched methodology to account for and reduce emissions from purchased food.


Stanford uses emissions factors from a well-known academic study published by Poore et al. in 2018. This study published both the full set of emissions factors it collected and a consolidated set which includes the median of emissions factors collected in each of 43 food categories. Today, Stanford uses the consolidated set to calculate its emissions from food purchases. More information on Stanford’s approach to selecting food emissions factors is available in the document Emissions Factor Set Selection: Food Purchases.

R&DE Stanford Dining has set a target to reduce emissions from food purchases by 25% by 2030! To reduce emissions relative to their 2019 baseline, R&DE will reduce the amount of beef, poultry, pork, dairy, and egg purchases and increasing the use of sustainable seafood, legumes, nuts/seeds, and grains to develop equally craveable meals that meet R&DE’s standards of excellence. Find out more in R&DE Stanford Dining’s Food Choice Architecture Playbook. The menu of globally inspired, plant-forward dishes is vast; as part of its leadership of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative, R&DE Stanford Dining has a long history of bringing these healthy, sustainable, delicious flavors to life to the delight of Stanford students. Beyond the MCURC, R&DE Stanford Dining is part of several partnerships–such as REGEN 1 and Drawdown Labs–to refine its sourcing and menu strategies to support climate-smart food and agriculture, advancing research, education, and flavor and innovation through the R&DE Stanford Food Institute.