Climate Friendly Cuisine:
Food Service Guidance and Best Practices for a Healthy Planet


Guidelines for Menu Choices

Menus of Change University Research Collaborative
This research collaborative between Stanford University and the Culinary Institute of America examines food waste recovery, tools for implementing their sustainability principles, and resources for campus dining hall collaborations.

Here you will find a list and explanation for 24 Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus. From menu concepts and general operations to food and ingredient choices, this includes many suggestions and tips for making your menu appealing to a environment- and health- conscious consumer audience.

Culinary Institute of America and EAT Foundation’s Plant Forward 50
These two food industry organizations have teamed up to recognize 50 chefs and restaurants who have created plant-focused menus and meals around the world. Their innovation is delicious and inspirational to anyone creating sustainable or vegetarian offerings.

Scaling Up Healthy, Climate-Friendly School Food
Written by Kari Hamerschlag, Friends of the Earth, Jen Dalton and Julian Kraus-Polk, consultants to Friends of the Earth. This report focuses primarily on strategies for increasing offerings of healthy, cost-effective plant-forward foods in the school system.

Sustainable Sourcing

Center for Good Food Purchasing
This organization is aiming to increase transparency in the food supply chain, and advocate for values-based purchasing practices. They have worked with many large public organizations and schools, and their resources page includes several examples of purchasing policies from actual institutions in the US. Additionally, they have lists of the current food standards, stamps, and qualifications across categories including environmental, animal welfare, and labor.

Meat of The Matter: A Municipal Guide to Climate-Friendly Food Purchasing
The report dives into the case for plant-based foods and gives a step-by-step guide to climate-friendly food procurement. The report was written by Kari Hamerschlag, Friends of the Earth U.S.; Alicia Culver, Responsible Purchasing Network; Chloë Waterman, Friends of the Earth U.S.; and Becca Bartholomew, Senior Consultant to Friends of the Earth U.S.

Regenerative Agriculture
Regenerative agriculture grows food, fiber, and fuel while increasing the productivity and  resilience of the ecosystem that supports it. Regenerative ranchers use conservation planning, adaptive planned  livestock management, and ecological monitoring to produce healthy food while improving the  productivity and resilience of the land and their community. View document here.

What You Eat Matters: Eat Less Meat + Cheese and Buy Greener When You Do
This report covers many of the compelling health, environmental and animal-welfare reasons to eat less meat and to opt for meat from organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed animals.

Reducing Food Waste

This website includes a comprehensive “Roadmap” to reducing food waste in the US, available to download free of charge. It includes where and how food is being wasted in the US, as well as practices and methods to reduce or divert food waste from landfills. More specifically, they have a guide on reducing waste made for restaurants and prepared food retailers, called the “stakeholder action guides.”

Extra Food
This is a Marin County based organization that facilitates food donation to local nonprofits, as well as providing information regarding food donation and disposal. If you are a business in their service area with extra food, they will arrange a pick-up free of charge. If you are curious about tax benefits, legal liability, or organics recycling regulations, you can use this website as a resource.

A public agency in Alameda County, their website contains a multitude of resources designed to help residents, businesses, institutions, and schools reduce and divert waste. For businesses, you’ll find information regarding purchasing, food waste metering, funding assistance, and building and landscape design.

ReThink Disposables
This organization is inviting businesses to participate in their program, which includes access to case studies, a reusable foodware transition cost calculator, and rebates on the purchasing of reusables. They also have a free reusable foodware guide that can help restaurants find what they are looking for in a reusable product.

This organization started in Berkeley in 2016 and already operates in 300 cities nationwide, including 10 cities in California, including San Francisco, the East Bay, and the Peninsula. They offer free food pick-ups and match the extra food with charities and hungry individuals based on their needs and location.

Waste No Food
This organization provides a web-based “marketplace” where farms, restaurants, and grocery stores can post their extra food. Qualified charities in the same area can claim this excess food and are responsible for its handling and transport. The organizations has participation from across the state of California.

Tech Tools

LeanPath Food Waste Prevention
LeanPath offers high tech waste metering stations as part of their food waste reduction plan for commercial kitchens. Their meters will weigh, photograph, and gather information from the user through a touchscreen interface. The data that is collected is reported to the administrator through an online dashboard so one can monitor when and what is being wasted. While the complete package is available for purchase, they do have several free resources available on their website to help chefs and foodservice professionals reduce food waste.

BlueCart is a mobile and online platform for selling and ordering food, especially designed for the hospitality industry. BlueCart aims to be a time saving purchasing and record-keeping tool, helping its users avoid hours of data entry per week.

Food Service Technology Center (FSTC)
This California-based organization is focused on promoting energy efficiency in the food service industry. Their website has free tips for saving energy, the latest industry standards and codes, as well as a life-cycle cost calculator for use when considering new equipment. They can also connect you with local seminars, equipment demonstrations, and rebate lists.

Food Waste Legislation Resources


Good Samaritan Law
Signed in to law on October 1st 1996, this legislation provides legal protection for those who donate and receive donated food from civil and criminal liability if it causes harm to the recipient. The law opened up opportunities for food to be donated that is not readily marketable due to expiration, freshness, size, surplus, or other conditions.

National School Lunch Act
Signed into law in 1946, the National School Lunch Act provides low-cost or free school lunch meals to qualified students through subsidies. The majority of the subsidies provided come in the form of a cash reimbursement for each meal served.

USDA Lunch Act
In 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture released a clarifying statement to the National School Lunch Act that any non-consumed food is eligible to be donated to local food banks or charitable organizations.


State (California)

AB 1219—Food Donation
While this law would allow school districts to consider offering surplus food to students and families by extending the definition of an end recipient of donated food to include individuals, current USDA regulations do not allow this provision. School districts can only legally donate food to a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  This requirement is currently under review by the California Department of Education (CDE) and the USDA Food and Nutrition Service department. AB 1219 does allow a school to donate items that are past their expiration date but still edible.

AB 1826
Setting requirements on commercial businesses and public agencies, including schools and school districts, to reduce the amount of organic waste produced in a week, this bill will be in full effect January 1, 2020. On January 1, 2019 these entities must reduce their organic waste to 4 cubic yards per week and by January 1, 2020, only 2 cubic yards per week will be permitted.

SB 557—School Food Donation
This California act, signed in 2017, reinforces and lists food items possible for schools to donate. The law covers items specifically left on cafeteria food share tables that can be donated and calls for the California Department of Education (CDE) to update its guidelines to match.

SB 1383—Short-lived Climate Pollutants: Organic Waste Methane Emissions
In 2016, the California State Senate set targets to achieve 50% reduction in levels of statewide disposal of organic waste by 2020 and a 75% reduction by 2025 (reduction rates are based off of the 2014 level). This legislation is used as a targeting and procedure point to improve and populate food waste and recovery programs in the San Diego and Oakland Unified School Districts.


Local and Regional

Alameda County mandatory recycling and composting ordinances
This Alameda county ordinance requires recycling and composting service for businesses, institutions and multi-family buildings capable of handling the waste they produce.