R&DE Stanford Dining, a campus dining leader in sustainability, is joining Drawdown Labs, a consortium of private sector partners working to scale climate solutions. Stanford Dining is the first university-based member and the first foodservice organization to be part of Drawdown Labs’ network of bold business leaders taking accelerated climate action. Members include Google, IDEO, Allbirds, Impossible Foods, Intuit, Netflix, LinkedIn and others.

“Sustainability is a core value for Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE),” said Dr. Shirley Everett, senior associate vice provost for R&DE. “As leaders, we are committed to service excellence and diligent stewardship of our planet’s resources. We follow emerging findings in the science of sustainability to identify ways we can take action – ourselves or with partners – to implement policies and practices that preserve our natural resources and reduce our impact on the environment. Through a number of strategic projects and programs, R&DE is integrating long-term sustainable initiatives into how we operate across the campus to provide enhanced ecological offerings to our valued students and customers.”

Christina Betondo, Assistant Director for Culinary Excellence, R&DE Stanford Dining

R&DE Stanford Dining was among the first campus dining programs in the country to hire a dedicated sustainable food program manager. Long ago, it published its in-depth Sustainable Food Ethos, committing to rigorous sustainability standards and guidelines across all of its sourcing and operations. This year marks the next ambitious chapter in Stanford Dining’s journey of sustainability leadership.

Long-term commitment to reducing food-related green house gas emissions

Stanford Dining recognizes that food systems account for about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions globally, works to reduce its food-related environmental impact through innovative procurement strategies (including those outlined in its Sustainable Food Ethos), food waste reduction, and promotion of more plant-forward food choices. These strategies are recognized as the most impactful. Project Drawdown ranks reducing food waste the #1 solution for reversing global warming; and shifting to plant-rich diets as the #3 most effective solution. These rankings cover 80+ potential solutions spanning transportation, energy, buildings, and beyond, underscoring a driving motivation for Stanford Dining: the often overlooked but tremendous power of food as a tool for climate action.

“When it comes to long-term strategies in sustainability, there is no imperative as important to address as climate change,” said Eric Montell, executive director of R&DE Stanford Dining. “Our approach to climate-smart dining is rooted in the resounding message from climate scientists, that our actions to address the climate emergency must be exponential in nature; we are past the time when incremental change is enough. We see tremendous opportunities for climate action through our food program: leveraging our institutional purchasing power and collaborating with thought leaders in climate change research (especially through the MCURC), and across business and industry (such as our new collaborations in Drawdown Labs and REGEN1). We are inspired by the groundswell of student support of our efforts and grateful to partner with many subject matter experts to support the goal of reducing food waste as an integral part of our climate-smart strategy. We also recognize the power of creating delicious plant-forward menus and using more biodiverse and regenerative agriculture ingredients. Our focus with the new One Plate, One Planet program is to enhance and create a more impactful student dining experience for the health of our students and for the good of our planet.”

Through membership in Drawdown Labs, R&DE Stanford Dining is building on its long-standing food waste reduction initiatives by committing to further reduce R&DE Stanford Dining’s food waste by 25% by the end of 2022. The partnership with Drawdown Labs will help R&DE Stanford Dining leaders learn and shape not only long-term food waste targets but broader food-related climate targets over the months to come.

Legacy of pioneering sustainability leadership

R&DE Stanford Dining’s award-winning Sustainable Food Program, One Plate, One Planet, addresses 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.

Each plate served, and each meal Stanford students eat, is an opportunity to create a better future for this planet together.

The power of partnership

R&DE Stanford Dining co-founded and jointly leads the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative, a collaboration of forward-thinking scholars, foodservice 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. Their global network includes over 250 food leaders across 60+ institutions nationwide and around the world. In addition, R&DE Stanford Dining’s history of sustainability-inspired partnerships and collaborations spans its membership in the Google Food Lab, Bay Area Sustainable Sourcing Group, and the World Resources Institute’s Better Buying Lab. R&DE Stanford Dining has also recently 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.