The California University has developed a unique way of getting their students to choose healthy food options in their campus’ dining. The dining team at Stanford has created intriguing names and labels for their more eco-friendly food options, in hope of drawing in the next generation. The university’s dining team has worked together to cut food waste and greenhouse gas emissions all while properly nourishing their students. They are working towards reducing the carbon intensive menu items by 25% by 2030, and developing effective options of reducing food waste, with the assistance of 43 other colleges through the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC). This impressive collaboration are testing and refining more healthy, sustainable, and delicious approaches to food. 

Diving deeper into the details of the newly transformed menu, they have switched over to 86% vegetarian and 64% vegan options. According to one of the completed studies, replacing animal based products with nuts and other planet based products brings a higher impact to the student body. But, many students may not take notice of the healthier versions because the team has created fun names for each new product based on the dish’s cooking technique, flavor profile, or overall appearance. For example, “caramelized slow-roasted carrots,” and “sweet sizzlin’ green beans and crispy shallots" are just a few creative new labels given to popular dishes. 

“If you have great labeling, but the food doesn’t taste good, it doesn’t work. That’s why culinary excellence and a dedication to delicious foods that are also healthy and sustainable is an unshakeable foundation," stated MCURC Co-Director and Director of the Stanford Food Institute and Sustainable Food Systems, Sophie Egan. 

This thoughtful tactic will also lessen food waste in many ways beyond just taste. The strategically made menu conducts food waste audits, helps students choose suitable portion sizes, decreases menu variety, and offers samples of the new dishes. Supplier engagement will be the next big obstacle for the Stanford team to overcome. In the journey to becoming more eco-conscious and bringing sustainability to an institution, there will naturally be plateau’s in progression. The team will be exploring new supplier relationships and partnerships to help implement improvements and sustain value within their projects. 

These continuously supplied healthy choices will give students a more stable diet and routine. In turn, allowing them to develop and progress upon said routine during school breaks and even after graduation. These routines can be implemented into the student’s daily life and potentially trickled down to their friends and families.