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Food & Living Initiatives

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.

About 40 percent of Stanford Dining produce is organic or regionally grown; some is even grown on campus.

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Stanford Dining promotes vegetarian and vegan meals, which require less energy and fewer resources to produce. About 40 percent of our produce is organic or regionally grown (within 250 miles). Fish offerings follow the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch recommendations; beef is locally, humanely and pasture raised; organic milk from a local dairy is available; eggs are cage-free from a local rancher; and all coffees and teas are Fair Trade certified.

Campus Gardening

The one-acre Community Farm and over ten community herb-and-vegetable gardens on campus provide organic produce and education about sustainable agriculture for dining halls and student row houses. The Farm Educator in the School of Earth Sciences teaches students about organic farming both in the classroom and at the Farm. The The produce grown on campus is also sold weekly at the student-run Stanford Produce Stand.

Stanford Dining Produce Stand


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, we give leftover usable food to programs such as SPOON (Stanford Project on Hunger) to distribute to community organizations. We are 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.

Stanford Dining Sustainable Food System

Goals & Results

Stanford Dining aims to continually improve its sustainable food, waste reduction and composting programs. The organization, which has a Sustainable Foods Coordinator and works closely with the Farm Educator in the School of Earth Sciences, also works to educate the university community about sustainable dining, raise awareness of campus sustainability goals, and change behavior. 

  • Stanford Dining’s partnership with the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA Organics) helps support about 30 small, organic farmers in Salinas, CA that grow organic produce for Stanford Dining.
  • The campus Community Farm and over 10 community herb-and-vegetable gardens provide organic herbs and produce to dining halls and row houses. The Farm Educator on campus teaches students hands-on organic farming techniques in these spaces.
  • Stanford Dining held a Sustainable Seafood Week in November 2008 which showcased sustainable seafood and brought experts into the dining halls to educate students about the state of the oceans and fisheries. In 2008, 74 percent of Stanford Dining’s seafood was in the Best or Good Category of the Seafood Watch Card.
  • The student-run Stanford Produce Stand provides local and organic produce—some of which is grown on campus—to the community every Friday.
  • The Sustainability Working Team (SWT) for Food and Dining aims to reduce deliveries on campus, enhance access to sustainable food suppliers, and provide more comprehensive sustainability education to the campus community.
  • About 10,000 gallons of waste oil from dining halls and cafés is converted to biodiesel fuel each year.