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Food & Dining

To put it simply, it means to eat food that gives us adequate nutrition and energy, with the least amount of negative impact, or footprint, on our earth. This includes being mindful of the safety and quality of our air, soil, water, and people. From the moment a seed is planted and grown to the time it is harvested, delivered, and purchased, creating a meal involves more than what you see on your plate. Your food does more than satiate you; it impacts the health of farmers and workers, local and global agricultural land, the food industry, and the climate. It is important to be aware of the story of our food since it is the thing that nourishes us and connects us to the earth.

Factors to consider

When selecting food to purchase and eat, there are several factors to consider:

  • Sustainable Farming & Welfare. How was it naturally grown in season or out-of-season with excessive pesticides? How was the animal raised? In a cage or roaming free? Humanely with proper feed?
  • Transportation. How did the food travel to you--by truck, train, plane? Is it local (located within a 150-mile radius) or from another continent? 
  • Workers' Rights. Do the farmworkers receive a fair, living wage? Do these people have safe working conditions?
  • Habitat and Environment Protection. What does the environment (from which your food originated) look like now? Is the land still arable? Were trees chopped down? Was that part of the ocean degraded or overfished? 
  • Waste and Packaging Reduction. How was your food packaged? Minimal plastic and reusable packaging? What will become of your leftover food? Will you save, donate, or compost it?

It may be difficult to always know the answers to these questions or to make sure you have a completely sustainable meal that is fresh, low carbon, and fair trade, but the important fact is that you are striving to make knowledgeable and mindful decisions about your food. To learn more about sustainable food, you can read The Kindling Trust definition or this SF Gate Home Guide that lists multiple definitions.

Bon Appétit Management Company, SCU's Dining Services provider, places a priority on buying food from within a 150 mile radius to help support local farming and reduce transportation emissions. SCU Dining Services also strives to provide a variety of vegetarian and vegan options.

On-Campus Options

Sustainable Food

  • Trans-fats are not used in any Dining Services by Bon Appétit kitchens.
  • Menus offer locally grown produce, cage-free eggs, hormone-free milk, and antibiotic-free chicken as well as supporting the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.
  • Sustainable social justice: Fair Trade coffee and teas, as well as chocolate are available at Bon Appetit venues across campus.
  • All ground beef is free-range, local beef from Marin Sun Farms, and the flour used for pizza dough also comes from a local farm.

The Forge Garden

Forge Garden

Established in 2008, the Forge Garden is a ½ acre educational, organic garden that serves the campus as a space for course research, service learning, and sustainable food production. Currently, the Forge contributes fresh fruits and vegetables as they are able to be served at Marketplace in Benson Memorial Center, so keep an eye out!

Vegetarian & Vegan Dining

A variety of vegetarian meal options are available every day and diners are able to create their own vegan meals any time via the build-your-own program at "Farmers' Pantry," which provides a variety of seasonal and local prepared vegetables and grains for use in salads, pasta or sautéed dishes.

The Real Food Challenge

Students at SCU are working with SCU Dining Services by Bon Appétit on this national student campaign dedicated to creating a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. The goal of the Real Food Challenge is to shift institutional food spending to 'real food' and away from industrial farms and junk food. Read more.


  • All venues use unbleached napkins made from recycled materials.
  • Customers who use their own reusable mug receive a 25¢ discount at Mission Bakery, Sunstream, and Cadence Cafes.
  • Dining Services by Bon Appétit offers an Eco-Tray Program in efforts to minimize the use of disposable to-go ware items. See below for details.  
  • Most catering and take-out containers are made from biodegradable materials.

Trayless Dining

Dining Services by Bon Appétit does not provide trays in student dining facilities, which means there are less items to wash, cutting down on water usage. Some dining trays are provided at the faculty and staff dining room, and trays can be requested at the Marketplace (main student dining facility) if needed.

The Eco-Tray Program

Dining Services by Bon Appétit offers an Eco-Tray that can be purchased for $5. Students receive a new, clean eco-tray and can immediately fill it with food. When they are finished eating, students can return the dirty tray to any cafe on campus and receive a clean tray.


Pre-Consumer Food Waste

Employees in the Marketplace kitchen are trained to sort all pre-consumer food waste for composting.

Post-Consumer Food Waste

Compost bins are provided by all recycling and landfill waste containers in Santa Clara's main dining hall.

Food Recovery Network 

As of May 2014, students have partnered with Bon Appétit (SCU’s dining company) to establish a chapter of Food Recovery Network at SCU. The Food Recovery Network (FRN) is the largest student-led food recovery movement in the nation with chapters at over 70 universities across the United States.

The staff at Bon Appétit is now packaging all leftover food from dining services and events for volunteers to pick up twice a week and deliver it to Martha’s Kitchen – a soup kitchen in San Jose. If you're interested in volunteering, please fill out this short form.