Giving Back for Eat Local Challenge Day — From Fork to Farm

Bon Appétit Management Company helps small farms and food businesses grow with $50,000 in grants

Palo Alto, Calif. (September 22, 2014) – What do small farms, ranches, and food businesses need in order to grow? Judging from the 171 applications submitted for Bon Appétit Management Company’s “Fork to Farm” grant program, topping the list are hoop houses/greenhouses (to extend the growing season), fencing (to help rotate animals on pasture), expanded refrigeration/freezing equipment, better delivery vehicles, and marketing assistance.

Erin Johnson and Ben Doherty of Open Hands Farm in Northfield, MN, finalists for Bon Appétit Management Company's Fork to Farm grant program

Erin Johnson and Ben Doherty of Open Hands Farm in Northfield, MN, finalists for Bon Appétit Management Company’s Fork to Farm grant program

Amazingly, most of those things can each be accomplished for under $5,000, which is how much we will award to ten lucky applicants, two in each of five geographic regions. The personal essays and photos submitted illustrate in colorful detail just how cash-strapped small farms are. Investing in what they need for the next growing season often leaves nothing left over for any dreams of expansion — or even for important maintenance.

On September 23, our annual Eat Local Challenge Day, Bon Appétit teams and café guests all around the country will get to vote on which of the 25 finalists will receive grants. Winners will be announced September 29 via the bamco.com/forktofarm page.

This year is the 15th anniversary of our Farm to Fork program. Since 1999, all Bon Appétit chefs have been required to buy at least 20% of their ingredients from farmers and artisans within 150 miles of their cafés. This year, we wanted to give back — from Fork to Farm.

“Our Farm to Fork vendors have been as important as our chefs in making Bon Appétit who we are,” says Fedele Bauccio, CEO and cofounder of Bon Appétit Management Company. “They’ve helped grow our business, and now we’d like to help grow theirs. This is about thanking them for all their hard work in producing food that nourishes our guests, our communities, and the land.”

In addition, as has always been the rule for Eat Local Challenge Day — started in 2005 — all 500-plus cafés companywide will celebrate their local farms by serving a meal sourced entirely from within 150 miles. That means everything from the yeast in the bread to the sweetener in the dessert. At many locations, guests will also get to meet some of the farmers, ranchers, and food artisans whose food helped make each café’s 100% local meal a reality.

“We’ve been working with Bon Appétit since our first season, and from day one it has been instrumental to our success. Bon Appétit’s dedication to the success of our farm over the past nine years has meant we can plan and plant for a top-notch reliable customer,” wrote Erin Johnson and Ben Doherty of Open Hands Farm in Northfield, MN, in their grant application for a root-storage facility. “[This] admirable commitment and flexibility in purchasing and preparing our produce has given us the confidence to invest in the farm to help make a difference in the food system.”

Read about the 25 finalists’ projects in detail at bamco.com/forktofarm.

Contact: Bonnie Azab Powell, (650) 621-0871, bonnie.powell@bamco.com

About Bon Appétit Management Company

Bon Appétit Management Company (www.bamco.com) is an on-site restaurant company offering full food-service management to corporations, universities, and specialty venues. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Bon Appétit has more than 500 cafés in 32 states, including at Google, eBay, University of Pennsylvania, and the Getty Center. All Bon Appétit food is cooked from scratch, including sauces, stocks, and soups. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, the food and climate change connection, humanely raised meat and eggs, and farmworker rights. It has received numerous awards for its work, from organizations including the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the James Beard Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Seafood Choices Alliance, and The Humane Society of the United States.