Increasingly, clients have been asking us about the connection between food and climate change, and what we can do together to reduce the impacts of their cafés on the global greenhouse gas footprint. It’s a question we welcome. Climate change is both an environmental and social justice issue. Temperature rise has a cascading effect on food and water security and human health across the globe, disproportionately affecting poor and already vulnerable communities. And food choices can be part of the solution!
At Bon Appétit, we’ve been committed to combatting the climate change-inducing effects of our operations since 2007 when we embarked on our Low Carbon Diet, which later evolved into our current Low Carbon Lifestyle program. Companywide, we’ve committed to prioritizing plant-based proteins, preventing and reducing food waste, trimming transportation, and decreasing deforestation, living by this set of principles every day, with measurement tools to keep us on track.
These intrinsic practices make us an appealing partner for climate-conscious clients, many of whom have committed to reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions and are seeking solutions to support and extend this endeavor. To arm our teams with great options, we’ve gathered a suite of solutions that help our clients extend their climate commitments, offering customizable approaches to goal setting, tracking, and more. Additional tools for clients will be announced this summer.
Customized Goal Setting and Tracking
Bon Appétit’s proprietary Food Standards Dashboard pulls information from purchasing, finance, and menu management systems to synthesize a complex set of data in order to ensure each of our accounts are living up to Bon Appétit’s sustainability, wellness, and culinary promises. This includes tracking activities that have climate impact: the amount of beef and animal proteins served (by ounce), overall cheese spend, participation in waste reduction initiatives, and number of vegan and vegetarian items served. The Dashboard will also soon offer World Resources Institute compatible-data tracking. While we’ve set ambitious companywide reduction goals that we monitor with this system, our clients can easily set their own goals and track them with this system free of charge.
Signing on to the Cool Food Pledge means committing to reducing GHG emissions associated with food by 25% by 2030 relative to 2015. This well-recognized third-party program uses the World Resources Institute’s Cool Food Calculator to gather data, calculate emissions, and track progress. Members who sign on to the pledge and pay an annual fee get support from the Cool Food Pledge team regarding how to capture data, use the Cool Food Calculator, and create guest-facing inspirational messages. Bon Appétit’s purchasing team is well-versed in this tool and can support clients by providing the necessary data for the program.
An evidence-backed, place-based, market-driven community platform designed to rapidly scale regenerative agriculture in Northern California, Regen1 can be used as a standalone or for purchasing food-systems-focused carbon offsets once data is available on the carbon impact of food purchases through the Carbon Foodprint tool or the Cool Food Pledge. Participants can sign onto a purchasing pledge to commit a percentage of their food purchasing budgets to support regenerative agriculture. Commitments can be fulfilled through any combination of these pathways:
- Spending a percentage of ingredient budget on carbon credits or ecosystem services from farms and ranchers through partnered organizations
- Buying products meeting Regen1 criteria from Northern California growers
- Donating a small percentage of money spent on conventional food purchases to a non-profit that gives grants to farmers to implement regenerative practices
- Direct donations to Regen1 approved non-profits and technical assistance programs that give grants to farmers to implement regenerative practices or offer technical assistance to farmers
Bon Appétit’s subject matter experts have vetted these tools and can offer support to our clients as they pursue their own climate change mitigation goals. In addition, the Bon Appétit team is also exploring ways to make even more of our own impactful companywide commitments related to greenhouse gas emissions.
Update: Bon Appétit recently announced an ambitious new commitment to combat climate change. Read more about it here.