Sustainable Purchasing

Seafood Watch App

R&DE Stanford Dining has developed a set of purchasing guidelines and preferences to establish a practical framework and an ongoing process to guide decision making with food sustainability. These guidelines and requirements take into account the best interest of our environment, the social and economic systems on which our food depends, and the health of those to whom we serve food. Our guidelines are informed by the most current science and research available and draw upon the input and involvement of many stakeholders within our campus community with the goal of improving the overall health, safety, security and sustainability of our food supply. We seek to have a thoughtful food purchasing policy that prioritizes food that is healthy, fair, humane, and sustainable.  We support the Menus of Change principles ( and co-lead the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative ( 

We prefer to purchase food that is:

  • Local: We prefer food that is grown, raised or processed locally in order to sustain our local economies (especially supporting small and mid-sized farms and companies) and minimize transport, especially of fresh fruit and vegetables. We define three tiers of location: local is within 150 miles, regional is within 250 miles, and statewide refers to California grown produce.

  • Direct: We prefer to purchase food directly from independently-owned growers, producers and manufacturers. We value knowing who grows our food and having direct relationships with them so that we can improve and learn together. We also prioritize purchasing food from women and/or minority owned businesses.

  • Organic: We prefer organically, as certified by the USDA National Organic Program, grown food to minimize exposure to harmful pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and chemical fertilizers for both our customers, farmworkers, pollinators and wildlife, and the environment.

  • Agroecological:  We prefer to source from farms that plant a diverse number of crops, as opposed to a monoculture, and employ agroecological methods of farming that protect and enhance soil health, biodiversity, and protect and preserve ecosystems.

  • Humane: We prefer meat and dairy products from animals that are treated humanely and allowed to express their natural behaviors. We prefer products that have a third-party humane certification, such as Food Alliance, Global Animal Partnership, and Certified Humane.

  • Raised without Antibiotics & Hormones: We prefer meat, dairy items, and seafood from animals that were never given hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics (unless sick and under the advice of a veterinarian). All of our chicken, beef, pork butt, and milk must be raised without antibiotics.

  • Fair: We prefer food that is grown in environments that treat their workers fairly and respectfully, comply with all labor laws, provide safe work environments, and do not employ slave labor. We prefer Fair Trade certified products over those that are not certified.

  • Sustainable Fisheries: Seafood must be sustainably raised in a way that allows the fishery to sustain itself for future generations without damaging the environment, overfishing, catching bycatch, or using slave labor. We prefer family fisheries that provide economic growth in their communities. 

Farm Accelerator Program

In 2017, we launched the Farm Accelerator program, which is designed to create an innovative business model supporting three small, local farms, helping them to create a viable organic farming business. This is a three-year startup model where we agree to purchase most of the produce grown on these farms to allow them to grow and become an established business. After three years, we will take on new emerging farms to support them in this same way.

Sustainable Producers

The fundamental pursuit of our Sustainable Food Program is to find answers to a small number of simple questions about the food we eat: where, how, and by whom was it grown, raised or processed, and how was it traded?

In our experience, the most satisfying answers to these questions come by way of the people who were directly involved in the production of our food, and they play a big part in our Sustainable Food Program.  

O’Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm  Stanford, CA

We buy approximately 10,000 pounds of produce from the O’Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm annually for a farm-to-campus program, bringing fresh, local and organic produce to the dining halls. Currently, vegetables and herbs from the campus farm, which is a living laboratory dedicated to teaching, research, and the demonstration of small-scale agriculture, are being used in the dining halls and the Teaching Kitchen.

Coke Farm, San Juan Batista, CA

We purchase “Deliciously Imperfect” produce directly from Coke Farm. Deliciously Imperfect produce is not perfect enough for grocery stores and would have been left on the field or composted- giving it a second life and additional income for the farmers. Coke Farm is located 64 miles south of Stanford and has been producing organically grown fruits and vegetables for over thirty years. Coke Farm aggregates organic produce from over 50 small and medium sized organic farms.

Clover Sonoma, Petaluma, CA
We serve organic skim, low-fat, and whole milk purchased directly from Clover Sonoma. Clover Sonoma is an organic dairy producer located in Petaluma, California, just north of Stanford. Clover Sonoma is a Certified B Corporation, American Humane Certified and a member of 1% for the planet. The cows are raised on family farms and spend their days in pasture and are never treated with hormones or antibiotics.

Wilcox Family Farm, Roy, WA
We serve only whole and liquid cage free eggs from Wilcox Family Farms. Wilcox Family Farms is a 100-year-old family farm in the foothills of Mt. Ranier. Founded in 1909 by Judson and Elizabeth Wilcox, Wilcox Family Farms is now run by the family's fourth generation.

Earthbound Farm, San Juan Bautista, CA
Earthbound Farms was started in 1984 by Drew and Myra Goodman. They specialize in lettuce mixes and supply R&DE Stanford Dining with organic & local spring mix and romaine. Earthbound Farms is also a leader in food safety, ensuring that the salad greens we serve are not only delicious, but safe.

Jacobs Farm, Pescadero, CA
Jacobs Farm is an organic farm located in Pescadero, which is 30 miles west of Stanford near the Pacific Ocean. Jacobs Farm specializes in organic herbs and edible flowers, and they grow over 60 varieties of herbs and flowers. We buy organic produce and herbs from Jacobs Farm.

Timeless Natural Food, Montana
We purchase organic lentils from the family farmers who are part of Timeless Natural Food. We were introduced to Timeless through Stanford Lecturer, Liz Carlisle, and her book The Lentil Underground.

Wildwood, Fullerton, CA
Wildwood began as a small, vegetarian deli in San Francisco in 1978. Today, they provide R&DE Stanford Dining with organic, GMO-free tofu.

Grass-fed Beef from Meat & Livestock, Australia
R&DE Stanford Dining has partnered with Meat & Livestock Australia to serve high-quality, grass-fed beef. The cattle are humanely raised on pasture, are never given antibiotics, and are halal certified. Grass-fed beef is naturally leaner, with less saturated fat than beef from grain-fed cows.