February 13th, 2009
On this week’s Business Matters, we bring you a whole show on ways that we can improve our school lunch programs. We’ll find out if it’s possible to serve healthy, natural and affordable lunches to children in an institutional setting, and give you tips on how you can get your local school district to adopt more healthy and sustainable practices.
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Helene York is director of the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation, an educational organization whose mission is to educate consumers, chefs, and food service managers about how their food choices affect the environment and the livelihoods of traditional food producers. The foundation was formed in 2005 to help identify sustainable food supply practices, opportunities and to help implement them.
Bon Appétit Management Company, headquartered in Palo Alto, California, provides on-site restaurant services at private colleges, universities, corporations and cultural venues in 28 states. In existence for 20 years, it is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Compass Group, the largest food service provider in the U.S. and worldwide with global headquarters in Great Britain. Bon Appétit is known for pioneering environmentally and socially responsible practices and then sharing operational know-how to sister companies within Compass Group and the food service industry at-large.
The Foundation’s first major project was a partnership with Seafood Watch of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The result was a Compass Group North America commitment to procure sustainable seafood, improve environmental practices of major seafood suppliers, and educate consumers at their accounts. Annually, more than one million pounds of unsustainable seafood have NOT been served since the policy was adopted.
Helene designed the second project, called the Low Carbon Diet, which is the first national program to highlight the significant connection between food and climate change. Synthesizing dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles about energy and emissions in food, she outlined in January of 2006 how the food system’s fossil fuel dependency and inherent emissions should be the next frontier of defining sustainable food.
Helene’s background is as an internal agent within Fortune 100 companies to achieve environmental and social justice goals through their operations. In the early 1990s she worked with scientists from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and Natural Resources Defense Council to implement a cutting-edge energy efficiency program in 20 million square feet of institutional real estate owned by a leading financial services company for which she was an asset manager.
Chef Bobo (aka Robert Surles), a graduate of the French Culinary Institute is currently Executive Chef and Food Service Director for the Calhoun School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where he is spearheading a revolution in what kids eat for lunch. He is cooking natural and healthy food that features bold flavors and good nutrition as the cornerstone of his menu plan. Everything is made from scratch with the freshest of ingredients.
Chef Bobo’s philosophy is simple, “If you give kids interesting food that’s been seasoned well and cooked well, they’re going to love it… and this has been a love affair. He has reeducated the palettes of more than 2500 kids in grades two through 12 and has them clamoring for rutabaga fries, steamed kale, brussels sprouts, roasted fish filets, hummus, teriyaki roasted tofu, fiddlehead ferns and all sorts of healthy and delicious meals in moderate sized portions.
Prior to taking the position at the Calhoun School, Chef Bobo, whose nickname is a derivative of Bob, worked for almost two years as an Assistant Chef Instructor at the French Culinary Institute. He is the Chef/Owner of Chef Bobo Catering Co, which he started in 1988. His goal is to develop young palates toward understanding good food so that eating well becomes a lifelong skill. Many of his flavorful and nutritious recipes can be found in his book, Chef Bobo’s Good Food Cookbook. (Meredith Books)
Bob Bloomer manages Chartwells Thompson’s contract with Chicago Public Schools. In 2005, they became the first single vendor for Chicago Public Schools’ food services, after running several of CPS’s 6 regions since 2000. Chartwells, a division of Charlotte-based Compass Group, provides dining services for over 875 colleges, universities, public and private schools around the Country.
Bon Appetit Management Company handle the food service contract for Wheaton Colleges, and have been so successful that they were ranked #1 for best campus food from the Princeton Review last year. Producer Jonah Meadows visited Wheaton College to hear how they’ve been able to do it.
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