Blog: Food waste

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Of course Bravo readers know just how important food recovery and reduction of food waste is to Bon Appétit’s core values. So imagine how tickled Executive Chef/General Manager Ron Stewart of RS5 Café was to form a partnership with a farm that will let Bon Appétit feed the farm’s animals as well as its fields.

Bon Appétit is enacting waste reduction initiatives companywide — and while the leadership role is comfortable, making the action a partnership feels even more agreeable. Bon Appétit at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL, partnered with student government to promote going trayless.

Watch out California, there’s a new “green” college in town — one you might not have encountered! At Marymount California University in Los Angeles (formerly known as Marymount College), Bon Appétit General Manager Donna Novotney and Executive Chef Luis Jimenez have worked closely with the college’s sustainability officer, Kathleen Talbot, to tackle waste in the dining hall head on. In one semester they’ve gone trayless, phased out Styrofoam to-go containers, successfully implemented a reusable to-go container program, started a student garden, and launched a living herb wall!

Today the Food Recovery Network, a student run organization dedicated to recovering leftover food from college campuses to give to those in need, will be rolling out the newest resource for their organizing toolkit: A Guide to Food Recovery for Chefs and Managers (PDF). Bon Appétit Management Company is proud to have partnered with FRN to create this resource, which is specifically designed to help campus dining services at schools around the country — not just Bon Appétit ones — work with students to launch food recovery programs.

When our chefs at Reed and Lewis & Clark Colleges first sat down with Ava Mikolavich from Urban Gleaners to discuss a food recovery program they were skeptical of how much food they could actually donate. Yet since April, the two cafés have donated a total of more than 5,000 pounds of food!

Still, as Dani Turk from the hunger relief organization Food Life Line once said, “Though it may seem like nothing, one piece of lasagna is still a dinner for a person in need.” So in April, the two schools began donating leftover food that would otherwise go to waste to Urban Gleaners.

It’s not easy being green, as a certain frog once sang, and it’s even less easy getting your practices certified green. But that’s exactly the feat that BonAppétit at VMware in Palo Alto, CA, accomplished in February, when it became a Bay Area Certified Green Business.

In the United States, 40% of food goes uneaten. Just so we’re clear, that’s nearly half. Yet one in every six Americans lacks a secure supply of food. Waste is happening at every part of the supply chain: thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables are being left in the fields to rot, blemished produce are being tossed at our supermarkets, restaurants are dumping perfectly good leftovers, and consumers are letting food waste away in their refrigerators. Clearly, we have a problem.

Since I first heard it was possible, it has been a dream of mine to own a car that runs on waste vegetable oil — burning a resource widely regarded as trash. Starting last summer, I was finally able to make that dream a reality.