The Bon Appétit Management Company is the nation’s leading sustainable dining services. They are an onsite restaurant company that provides café and catering services to corporations, colleges and universities and specialty venues. They are pioneers in environmentally sound sourcing policies. They have developed programs that encourage local sourcing, address the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, cage-free eggs, and most recently, the connection between food and climate change.
Through their Low Carbon Diet program which was started in 2007, they have focused on reducing all aspects of food waste. Food waste is a key issue because it indicates inefficiencies in the system: hungry people that do not get fed and a waste of resources taken to grow the food. Food waste also represents a significant amount of methane emissions when it decomposes in landfills. According to the EPA, landfills are the largest human-related source of methane in the US, accounting for 34% of all methane emissions.
By 2009, the company had reduced food waste in its 400 cafes by 20%, a weekly reduction of around 40-50 tons of CO2 emissions. The company relied heavily on their chefs to make the change. As most of their menu is fresh and prepared daily onsite, chefs can adapt their menus to use what’s on hand. By creatively using waste food items in sauces and stocks, food waste is reduced. They have also developed cooking methods that uses all the cuts from an animal through their ‘nose to tail’ policy where even shanks and other braising cuts are used in soups and stews.
For all this to be effective, Bon Appétit started with educating their chefs and kitchen staff on the importance of reducing food waste. They also introduced measures for proper portioning and techniques like a weekly waste monitoring program in all kitchens. They also included their consumers in their campaign by including weighing and measuring food at dish return stations as well as trayless campaigns. They have also endeavored to divert kitchen wastes through different avenues like composting. They use their direct relationship with farmers who use their waste for pig and chicken feed, biofuel processors, and food banks.
“Responsibility is the hallmark of Bon Appétit’s brand. With a UN Report on food waste worldwide stating that over half of all food produced is wasted, or discarded due to inefficiencies in the supply chain, we’re stepping up to do everything we can to reduce our contribution to the problem,” said Fedele Bauccio, CEO Bon Appétit Management Company.
The company has won many accolades for its efforts. It was named the best cafeteria food by students of Princeton University. Its CEO has recently been honored with one of the inaugural James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards. The new awards recognize visionaries in the business, government, and education sectors responsible for creating a healthier, safer, and more sustainable food world.
Sustainable food does not just seem to be a CSR policy or ‘add-on’ at Bon Appétit but simply the way the business is structured. It is quite obvious that it is working for them, not just from the way they have engaged their key stakeholders but also from the obvious benefits they are getting from their business model.