Earth Day falls on Friday, and after two years of restrictions, many operators are holding live, interactive events to engage guests. Some have been promoting save-the-planet activities throughout the month, culminating in Stop Food Waste Day on April 27.
At accounts managed by foodservice provider Bon Appetit, the Earth Day theme is “Make Food Choices that Reduce Your Climate Impact.”
“Our teams are holding interactive scavenger hunts in their cafes,” says Peter Todaro, communications and content specialist for Bon Appetit. Diners will hunt for zero-waste dishes that “leave no stem or root behind,” omit emissions-heavy ingredients like beef or cheese, or use local, seasonal ingredients to cut the carbon footprint of air travel.
“Guests can scan QR codes with their phones, which will bring them to an online form with questions that help them make the connection between their food choices, food waste and climate change,” says Todaro. Prizes will be awarded to random winners.
Chefs in Bon Appetit’s college dining programs are hosting low-carbon cooking classes with students or collaborating with student groups and sustainability departments to hold unique events on their campuses.
The foodservice provider is also participating in Stop Food Waste Day initiatives, spearheaded by parent company Compass Group. Directed at college and corporate accounts, the promotion debuted in 2017 and seeks to draw annual attention to food waste and present practical solutions.
Compass Group is doing its part on Stop Food Waste Day by launching a new digital food waste cookbook, which features recipes from 45 Compass chefs across 30 countries and is aimed at home cooks.
The recipes give a second life to ingredients that are usually tossed out, including stale bread, bruised fruits and vegetables and peels from fresh produce. Included in the collection are dishes such as Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Pumpkin Skin Chips, Watermelon Rind Curry and Coffee Ground Brownies.
Operations across CulinArt’s portfolio of accounts are celebrating Stop Food Waste Day all month long with zero-waste recipes. Several showcase root-to-stem cuisine, such as Asparagus, Artichoke and Chickpea Stew with Vegetable Trim Broth, Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Grilled Chicken, Pickled Red Onion, Sesame Tahini and Cauliflower Couscous and Waste Not Rainbow Salad.
Some of the company’s operators are planning events specific to their location on Earth Day. Denee Danner, director of dining services at the Forman School in Litchfield, Conn., is holding a “clean plate initiative" raffle with prizes.
“I will be educating the students on taking small portions, allowing them seconds if they wish,” she says. “When they get to dish room and present a clean plate, I will give them a raffle ticket to win a prize from the school bookstore.”
At the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles, a popular plant-based dish is the featured menu item of the day on Friday. The vegan, gluten-free gnocchi tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, basil sweet corn and cherry tomatoes always draws a crowd, says Director of Dining Services Megan Lambert-Jackson.