Celebrating 10 Years of the Fellows Program: Claire Cummings

Claire Cummings on a farmClaire Cummings
Fellow from August 2012 to November 2013, based in Portland 

Which Bon Appétit campus attended: Lewis & Clark College

Current job: Waste programs manager for Bon Appétit Management Company. 

Skill/wisdom you gained from the Fellowship: Always dig deeper. With so much of my work, I have been successful because I dug a little deeper, got a little more curious, and didn’t take things at face value. The beauty of the Fellowship is the more you learn in the role, the more you realize how much there is still to learn and understand about these hot-button issues in the sustainable food movement. Acknowledging the limits of your own expertise and asking good questions will get you far in life.

Did the Fellowship shape your career choices? If you asked me back in 2012 if I thought I would become an expert on waste sustainability and focus my career on fighting waste in food service, I would have said “never in a million years!” I am on this path today because of the many learnings and programs the Fellowship exposed me to. My first introduction to fighting food waste was as a Fellow helping our teams set up programs to donate their excess food to people in need. Although I’ve come a long way since then, I’ve learned most of what I know about waste prevention and reduction through working on the job over the last seven years with Bon Appétit.

Memorable experience as a Fellow: Helping open our new café at John Hopkins University. It was my first foray in operations and it felt like a two-week crash course in the everyday business of food service. The experience gave me a deep appreciation for the work our managers, chefs, cooks, and dishwashers do every day. It was humbling to be reminded of all the hard work that goes into feeding people — and it gave me some great perspective that has helped me develop sustainability programs and initiatives that actually work for our teams.

Read more Fellows 10th Anniversary interviews: