Friday, February 12, 2016

Our Better Tomorrow Plan

       Sodexo pledges to ensuring and improving quality of life for all our employees and people we serve. This means striving for excellence in four major categories that encompasses all our practices in our quest for a more sustainable and equitable future. These categories we commit to are Local Communities, our Employees, the Environment, and Nutrition Health and Wellness.
       We make every effort to give back to the local communities that support us in three ways. The first is fighting hunger. At Ithaca College we raise funds and collect food several times a year to support The Food Bank of the South Tier. Our most recent fundraiser alone collected 159.5 pounds of food and $1995, which adds to the $6000 we have raised for the Backpack Program already this year. This, in addition to our 800+ pounds of food donated yearly goes towards feeding those in need in our area. Sodexo also promotes economic development of inclusive and diverse business through our Supply Chain Inclusion Program. Increasing our food sources from fair trade certified sources is also our top priority and we are proud to serve Aspretto Fair Trade Coffee in our dining halls.
       Ithaca College Dining Services would not be able operate without our dedicated employees and we make an effort to provide them with the most comfortable and safe environment possible. Our teams meet for Daily Safety Moments to discuss the best practices in the work place as we strive for our 100% Safety Record, made possible by the formation of our Safety Committee. And if challenges do arise, our employees are encouraged to contact one of the professional consultants with our Lifework's program, available 24/7. As an employer we always want to see our staff members develop and grow throughout their career through our mentoring programs and mid-year and yearly evaluations to find ways in which they can improve and excel. We are also committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment and ensure fair treatment practices.
       As none of us would be here without the natural environment that makes all life possible, we make sure to employ green and sustainable practices whenever possible. We source as much local, seasonal, or sustainably grown and raised products as possible, are constantly working to increase our local food spend, and are proud to serve cage free eggs in dining halls. Our LeanPath tool helps us measure the organic waste generated on campus and allows us to set goals for reduction. Our target is a 5% reduction in pre-consumer waste and bringing our post-consumer waste down to 1/4 pound per person, compared to a national average of 1/3 pound. Greenhouses gases are also one of our number one concerns as we aim to reduce our over all carbon footprint by auditing our energy use, replacing obsolete and inefficient equipment, and improving behavior and work patterns.
      As food is our business, we are dedicated to provided the highest quality and most nutritious food to students. We promote and offer a variety of balanced food options that contain reduced sugar, salts, and fats using our Mindful Menu. Your food allergies are always accommodated by ensuring that there is never a shortage of allergen-free foods and you can meet with our dietitian and executive chef to discuss any dietary needs or limitations.
       Our Better Tomorrow Plan is aimed at improving quality of life in all sectors of our operation and the environmental, people, and communities that support us. We want to make a better world and dining experience for all and are always open to your comments and suggestions.


Monday, February 8, 2016

What is Sustainability?

The Triple Bottom Line    

       When you think about sustainability, what comes to mind? Maybe solar panels, electric cars, or recycling? While these are all parts of sustainability, it is actually a much broader concept that spans from governments and ecosystems down to you and me and our personal habits and ideologies. This all encompassing idea of sustainability is called the triple bottom line and brings into account almost all aspects of life and how they relate to making a more sustainable and livable future for all. There have been many arguments that the three main components of sustainability; Social, Economic, and Environmental, can't jive. This idea is largely based on the current way that our world operates, but that does not mean that there isn't a better way or that we can't change. Lets look at how these things fit together.

       The social aspect of sustainability is such an important factor because it involves us, the people that live on earth and for better or worse, now are largely responsible for the current state of the environment and how we must fix it. Living in a world that is clean, safe, and diverse is imperative to our survival as well as the survival of all other life on the planet. This is not only dependent on how we interact with our environmental, but also each other. Having a healthy society where we can communicate, engage, and coexist with one another is key in order for our species to function. And all these things play into our relationship with the natural world. How bearable our environmental is a large part of this relationship. This means clean air, water, and soils, as well access to the natural resources that we need to survive. For many of us in the United States, this seems like a no-brainer, but there are millions of people across the world that do not have these basic things. We must protect our environment because the damage that we do it at home affects more than just us. And there is no better start to solve this issue than with education. Teaching people of all ages about the environment, their role in climate change and related social justice issues, as well as the way their government and economy plays a vital role in the larger picture should be pillars of environmental education.

       Economics has often been seen as the enemy of the environment and for a long time the policies and practices of corporations and businesses that have been the life blood of our economy have heavily contributed to climate change. Only recently, with in the last 40 years have these things become real issues in the public eye that has resulted in reform. This polluting of resources in the name of industry has not only happened in our country and is part of how the economic, social, and environmental aspects all combine to create a sustainable future. Many developed nations, especially the US, have exploited developing nations and used their resources for their own good and in return these societies are suffering because they do not have their basic needs met. These practices not only siphon resources and capital away from these poorer nations, but it also often degrades their environment, leaving the people that live there marginalized and left with unbearable living conditions. However, recently there have been more movements and discussion about sustainable development and how environmental well-being and economic viability do not have to be contrasting ideas. An imperative of this notion is investment in sustainable organizations and technologies and shifting of long standing subsides from the fossil fuel industry to green initiatives such as alternative energy. When this is done we will still be able to foster a thriving economy, but it will no longer be carbon based and will instead devote our resources to ensure the health and longevity of the environment and the people of the world.

       When thinking about sustainability it is hard not to think first of the environment. We must remember though that this is not just in relation to ourselves. The earth is home to countless forms of life, compared to which humans are the minority. As humans strive for sustainability it is important to keep in mind that life on this planet is about maintaining an equilibrium and the balance between. A sustainable future is not just one that can sustain a healthy society and economy, but just as importantly it is about ensuring our earth is a place that does not compromise biodiversity and the plant and animal life that existed long before humans and are such a crucial part of the balance that makes all life possible. Though we have entered what is now being dubbed "The Anthropocene," we must not let our thoughts and actions continue to be anthropocentric. For a sustainable future to come to fruition, humans must increasingly become aware of their position in the natural world, realize their effects on it, and make every effort to live their lives in a manner that promotes a bearable, equitable, and viable existence for all life on our planet.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Meatless Monday: The Veggie Behind the Burger

Meatless Monday

For those who have been vegetarians or vegans from Day 1, its hard to relate to that feeling so many speak of when they say "I just want a burger!" However, as many of us know, there are many delectable veggie burgers out there that can satisfy that craving and for those who don't have it, you'll soon be craving a whole new kind of burger.

There are probably hundreds of kinds of veggie burgers out there, from the big brands like MorningStar and Boca to the specialty patties are the hidden secret of your local cafe. For those new to the veggie scene, there are a few basic bases for veggie burgers that you should be familiar with.

1) Soy: These patties are extremely common and are often the main ingredient in the more popular store bought burgers and are what gives them the "veggie" title. These can come in many forms, from tofu to textured "vegetable" protein. For those who are looking for that meaty flavor, this might be the route you want to go. Soy takes on whatever flavor you add to it and when done properly might even hold up in a taste comparison to real beef or chicken patties. My favorite is the Spicy Chicken Boca Burger, which tastes exactly any chicken I've ever had. You can also make these burgers yourself. Just buy your preferred form of soy and mix it with BBQ or Poultry seasonings, add whatever else you want and you can have your own home made veggie burgers in minutes right at home. Though it might take some practice to nail down the exact flavor you want, these are a few advantages to making your own. One can be cost. If you make a large batch, each patty can cost only a dollar, compared to $5 and up at your local restaurant. The other big benefit is the ingredients. GMO's are hotly debated and many will make every effort to eliminate them from their food stream, and for good reason. Unfortunately, soy beans are one of the most genetically modified plants being grown today and seeing as though soy it so prevalent in so many veggie burgers today, this can be a real problem. The best way to avoid this issue if to make them yourself or to source organic veggie burgers whenever possible. A few good options for GMO Free soy burgers include: Boca Vegan Meatles Burger, Gardein Veggie Burgers, and Sol Cuisine Veggie Burgers

2) Grains: Things like brown rice and quinoa are popular items to serve as the base for veggie burgers. While not having as much protein as soy burgers, these patties are absolutely delicious and are packed with many other essential nutrients. Grain based burgers are high in Fiber, B Vitamins, and Iron that help the body in producing red blood cells, help maintain heart and digestive health, providing the body with energy through out the day. Some great grain based burgers to try are: Qrunch Foods Quinoa Burgers, Hilary's Black Rice Burger, and my personal favorite, Gardenburger Veggie Burgers.

3) Legume: Some of the most popular veggie burgers on the market are, of course, Black Bean Burgers! Unlike grain based patties, bean and lentil patties are chocked full of protein. Once again, these burgers are scrumptious and often take on a southwest flavor, being combined with corn, onion, and peppers. Beans also are good for your heart, help balance blood sugar, are low fat, and reduce your risk of cancer. A few great bean burgers to try are Chez Marie Bean Patties, Lightlife Smart Patties Meatless Black Bean Burger, and Sunshine Black Bean South West Burger.

Other popular bases for veggie burgers include mushrooms, sunflower seeds,cauliflower, and eggplant.

Don't be afraid to try new things in your quest for your new favorite burger. In your search you'll probably see some things that you never would consider an ingredient in a veggie patty, but keep an open mind and make sure being healthy is your number one priority and you can't go wrong. Happy eating and let the best burger win!

Happy Eating!