The Sustainable Food Program Manager is a full-time position within Stanford Dining. This person works closely with other employees of Stanford Dining on sustainable food procurement, waste reduction, on-campus production, and awareness. The Sustainable Food Program Manager also manages student gardeners and interns, assists faculty with classes related to food and agriculture, and coordinates with other staff on campus to promote sustainable initiatives campus-wide.
The Sustainable Food Program Manager position began as a partnership between students from Students for a Sustainable Stanford and Stanford Dining. Several undergraduates were working as sustainability interns with Stanford Dining on projects like the dining hall gardens, turning waste oil into biodiesel, and reducing the use of disposables in dining halls. They realized that these efforts would be much more successful if someone could spend a more consistent amount of time on them and keep the institutional memory of previous projects and lessons learned. With the input of the Executive Director of Stanford Dining, they wrote a proposal to the Provost for Undergraduate Education at Stanford asking for two full time positions: the Sustainable Food Program Manager and the Farmer Educator. The proposal highlighted the responsibility of a university to educate its students not only in a formal classroom but also in outdoor environments like gardens and in the places they eat. They also argued that food could be used as a great case study for learning about labor issues, climate change, nutrition, public policy, soil biology and more. After reading the proposal and listening to the students' presentation, the Provost agreed to fund one position, housed in Stanford Dining, for a two-year trial period.
After the two year trial period, Stanford Dining decided to fund the position full-time within its department. The decision was in large based on the successful creation of awareness, education, and impact by Stanford undergraduates Emmett Hopkins, the first person to fill the role, and subsequently by Erin Gaines, who continued to successfully expand the scope and depth of influence of the sustainable foods program on campus.
In addition, the School of Earth Sciences, the Earth Systems Program and the Woods Institute for the Environment all agreed in the Spring 2008 to contribute funding to create the second originally requested position: the Farm Educator. This position officially started in the Fall of 2008 and is working closely with the School of Earth Sciences and the Sustainable Food Program Manager to expand hands-on educational opportunities for the Stanford Community.