Corporate and Educational Cafeterias Build Sustainable Food Systems
Lunch at Google by Bret L. via flickr
Grocery stores and restaurants are responding to the consumer demand for more sustainable food choices. And while this increased demand has created more markets for organic, local, and small-scale farmers there's a whole other sector of the food services industry that is making local and sustainable food systems stronger.
Google's Cafe 150 received rave reviews when it opened in early 2006. The internet giant received lots of media attention for their efforts, but more in acknowledgment of the cafe as another in a long list of great perks for employees. But, Google's cafe is by no means the first or only corporate lunch room to approach sustainability.
Corporate Food ServiceBon Appetit management is a nationwide company specializing in socially responsible food service with diverse clients including MIT, Best Buy, and Seattle Art Museum . Their commitment to ethical sourcing and fresh ingredients stretches across their 400 locations in 28 states. Way back in '99 they developed a farm to fork program to encourage local sourcing. At the time it was a way to access quality ingredients, but they soon realized that sourcing locally has multiple benefits, not the least of which is positive pr. But, their commitment goes well beyond lip service and they have aligned themselves with well-respected groups including Seafood Watch and Food Alliance. The company is promoting their dedication to local food systems with an Eat Local Challenge taking place on September 30 at all of their locations. Each chef will be charged with sourcing completely local menus on that day, with salt being a reasonable exception.
Building Sustainable Food MarketsToronto non-profit Local Food Plus is on the leading edge of helping institutions make the switch to sustainable food sourcing.
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Institutions are major players in the food system and their operations often provide producers with significant volume, as well as predictable and stable demand. Institutional purchasers have the ability to leverage their buying power to encourage multiple stakeholders in the food system to participate in developing local sustainable food systems.
In the United States, over 200 university and colleges and schools in 16 states have implemented farm-to-school programs that emphasize local food purchasing and often have a sustainability component. Hospitals, municipal governments, and corporate cafeterias are also implementing local sustainable food programs. LFP is committed to working with institutions in Canada to develop similar programs for the benefit of local farmers, the environment, public health, the local economy, and our quality of life.