While we all do business in a global economy, life frequently reminds us that it is still a very small world. Recently, I had the opportunity to introduce one of the keynote speakers at the 2011 Society for Foodservice Management (SFM) conference in Philadelphia. Prior to the conference, I had a chance to chat with the speaker, Dr. James E. Painter, a nationally recognized food psychologist, nutrition educator from Eastern Illinois University and author of “Food Psychology: Why We Eat More Than We Think.” In talking with him I was amazed and delighted to discover that, several years ago, he, too had worked for Sodexo! I was excited to share with Dr. Painter the enhancements and updates to the health and wellness mission of our company. And as I did, it was clear that he was happy to speak with someone from the Sodexo family, and proud of his former association with Sodexo.
Just last week Sodexo released its first performance-based sustainability report, in which we highlight our strategy for health and wellness, commitment to local and sustainable foods and our approaches to address climate change. As an inaugural report, it notes progress in a number of areas, but primarily sets the baseline for gauging future progress around how we promote nutrition information, vegan and vegetarian options, local produce, sustainable seafood, Fair Trade products and more. The report takes an in depth look at the American plate and like Dr. Painter, asks us to think about what we have on our own dinner tables.
But, as we know, people are still people. And the power of dining psychology cannot be overlooked. No one knows that better than Dr. Painter and that was apparent in his speech at this year’s conference. When we spoke, I asked what motivated him to become a food psychologist. “I was on my way to Med School and needed to take a mandatory Nutrition class. From that very first class, I was hooked. I knew that what I really wanted to do was study nutrition.” Why? I asked. “Because Medical School focuses on how to make sick folks better; nutrition and dietetics focus on how to help folks not get sick in the first place. And isn’t that really the smart place to start?”
The conference brought important topics to an important audience this year; I was glad to be a part of it, and make a new, small-world connection along the way with Dr. Painter.
Tracy Kelly is a director of strategic planning for Sodexo’s Corporate client segment.