Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Does Living Healthy Mean Living a More Sustainable Life?

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Ragini Raghuveer, MS, MS, RD, LD/N

Sustainability in its simplest terms: Ability to maintain, withstand, endure

It is the ability to maintain and conserve the resources in nature thereby preserving our earth today and making it viable to support life tomorrow.

Sustainability is closely associated with social, environmental and geographic practices and impacts health, ecology, culture and ethics.

Food sustainability is achieved when the food travels the shortest distance from production to the table, when food is as natural as possible or the least processed or altered in growth, production, packaging and transportation to our homes.

We are in the day and age of industrial, vacuum packaged, encapsulated and genetically altered food.

The most sustainable food in the market does not have a label and the most processed food coming from the farthest end of the planet has labels!

So how can we help food and non-food sustainability in our homes?

-          Source fresh, local vegetables and fruits and plan your menu based on seasonal availability at your local fresh or farmer’s market, cook and serve fresh, instead of prepackaged foods ready to microwave, that was made in the past with many additives to preserve the food and its form and has traveled half the globe to find a place in your freezer

-          Grow what you can in a pot, in your backyard or garden.  Use natural compost, not chemical fertilizers,  as it affects the water table

-          Preserve what is available locally today for future use

-          Reduce intake of convenience foods – make what you can at home – sauces, yogurt, jam and preserves, marmalade, seasonings etc.

-          Locally raised animals and fresh meat is superior nutritionally to meats from far end of the world

-          Imported foods in our supermarket may be cheaper in price but it is robbing time and distance, not to mention health, nutrition and other hidden costs.

-          Look for biodegradable packaging, take your reusable bag to the super market

-          Reduce use of plastics and Styrofoam.  Separate recyclables

-          Buy energy efficient appliances and equipment

-          Car pool, take public transportation

-          Plant trees around the house to save summer cooling bills

-          Try a solar heater

-          Fix leaky pipes, weather strip windows and use low flow toilets and showers

-          Use rechargeable batteries, reusable wash cloth

-          White vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda are better cleaners than harsher chemicals, use non-toxic cleaners

-           Use both sides of a printer paper

-           Shut the light, fan behind you, keep air conditioner at optimal temperature for energy savings

These are just a few examples, get creative around your house to save energy, carbon foot print, money and help breathe fresh air, eat healthy and lead a life with the satisfaction that you have preserved this earth for yourself and the next generation.

Ragini Raghuveer is a systems clinical nutrition manager for Sodexo Nutrition Services.

Embrace the Good Bugs, Repel the Bad

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Maria Pugliese

The joy of gardening brings pests.  Depending on what you plant, a variety of insects will be attracted.

Aphids like peppers and radishes, squash bugs like zucchini, and caterpillars like broccoli.  Some gardeners prefer insecticides while others like to keep their garden organic and chemical-free.  In the past, I have fought off aphids with a spray bottle of soapy water and won the battle.  This year I had a new enemy.

It didn’t take long for the caterpillars to find my cauliflower and broccoli.  Even though caterpillars turn into beautiful creatures, they can destroy a garden on their journey.

At first, there were just a few.  I would pluck them off, but then they came in masses.  I would go out morning and night to pull off any that were feasting on my plants.  This wasn’t enough!  I would come home to leaves covered with holes or the stem being all that was left of a thriving plant.

A caterpillar having lunch in my garden.

I was adamant against using any chemical pesticides so I resorted to neem oil, a vegetable oil that is non-toxic and acts as a natural pesticide.  Its downside is it can also deter helpful insects like ladybugs.

I covered both the front and back of the leaves with the oil and water mixture.  The number of caterpillars decreased, and continual application was necessary to see a significant difference.

In future years I will opt for a different natural alternative.  Many insects do not like the smell of lavender, mint and sage.  These herbs can be planted around the edges of the garden, or intermingled within the plant to repel the caterpillars and any other insects that like to eat my vegetable garden as much as I do.

Maria Pugliese, Dietetic Intern, Sodexo Distance Education Dietetic Internship, is a graduate of University of Alabama.

Here Comes the Kale Cart!

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Emilie Nester

As a Sodexo Patient Services Manager, a large amount of time is spent conception and execution of patient spirit lifters and specials. While this is fantastic, sometimes these specials are a dessert or sweet treat of some kind. We, like most people, equate treats with fun!

Patient Wellness initiatives can be a tricky thing to make fun. At times, you are starting with a patient on a prescribed diet in addition to the fact that they may just not feel up to trying something new.

How do we work around the unchangeable obstacles we face daily to get both our patient population as well as our nursing staff to try some new wellness options and keep the fun in it?

One thing we have started here at CarolinaEast is a monthly “In Season” fruit & veggie cart.

We make delicious Wellness recipes with the fruit or vegetable that is in season (this month was Kale) or serve it in the purest form. Presentation is key to keeping the fun element in this activity!

We worked with the CarolinaEast construction team to have a fruit & veggie cart made so when they see us coming, people know they are going to get to try a yummy Wellness item.

Here comes the Kale cart!

We hand out information sheets about the In Season item as well as samples.

Both patients & staff love it!

It’s great having wellness “treats” for patients & staff and at the same time fulfilling our dedication to Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow commitments.

  • We will develop and promote health and wellness solutions for our employees, clients and customers.
  • We will provide and promote varied and balanced food options.
  • We will source local, seasonal or sustainably grown and raised products.
  • We will promote choices with reduced sugar, salt and fats.

And my added commitment, keeping food fun!

Emilie Nester is a Patient Services Manager for Sodexo at the CarolinaEast Medical Center.

Thinking INSIDE the Farmbox

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Emilie Nester

Who doesn’t love going to the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday, picking out your favorite seasonal fruits & veggies and having all those delicious items for the week? The unfortunate thing is- we don’t always have time or life gets in the the way. So, our goal at CarolinaEast Health System was simple: to support local community farms, buy seasonal, eat healthy and save money all at the same time! We were able to do this by bringing the local farmer’s offerings right to our door.

We started first by interviewing several farmers, touring farms and spent many a morning speaking with people at the farmers market to find who would be a good match for our organization. We decided on Putnam Family Farms and after a short time, farmboxCarolinaEast, aka farmboxCE was born!

Every week a box with items picked fresh that day is delivered to a designated location on campus and picked up by all the farmboxCE participants. Our Clinical Nutrition Manager creates weekly recipe cards for lesser known vegetables such as Kohlrabi and Rainbow Chard. These cards have information about the item, nutritional facts and wellness recipes for participants to try at home. We also created a Facebook and Twitter account where many farmboxCE participants enjoy posting pictures of what they made they made that week or of their families enjoying the items to promote healthy eating!

Our goal was simple: To support local community farms, eat healthy and save money.

Even before the farmboxCE program started we worked with Putnam Farms to get people excited about eating vegetables! Weekly updates and pictures were posted on the social networking sites of their produce growing and general goings on at the farm.

Also, all farmboxCE participants were invited to the farm for the day to pick strawberries, take a hay rides, meet their farmer and take a walk on their farm! Every week Steve Putnam, the owner of Putnam Family Farms, personally delivers the boxes and goes through each item that is in it.

This program has been overwhelmingly successful. Our employees are tasting, cooking & eating vegetables and fruits they have never tried before. They are sharing recipes with each other and dedicating themselves to integrating more vegetables into their diets. There is a farm to table connection in a healthcare environment that did not exist before. One of our Better Tomorrow sustainability goals at Sodexo is to create a wellness partnership between our customers and Sodexo, and we have excited to create a unique connection between our health and our community.

This time, thinking outside the box put us in a farmbox!

UPDATE: July 29, 2013 – Check out the picture below for the wonderful bounty of fresh, local vegetables FarmboxCE has delivered this summer!

Emilie Nester is a Patient Services Manager for Sodexo at the CarolinaEast Medical Center.

This Earth Day, Do It “For Cod and Country”

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Barton Seaver

I am thrilled and honored that Sodexo chose recipes from my first cookbook, For Cod and Country, to help them celebrate sustainable seafood and Earth Day. When we talk about sustainable seafood, we are not just talking about sustaining the seas, but also about sustaining the communities that provide food for our tables. I have had the good fortune to work with many chefs across the Sodexo universe who understand this nuance and it’s an honor to be able to collaborate with such creative and talented teams.

Sustainable seafood is a multifaceted issue, but at its core it represents a conversation about how we interact with our oceans and ecosystems. Our fisheries are one of the primary causes of much of the damage imposed on our oceans by humans. With the plethora of seafood information available in the media and from non-profit organizations, it can be difficult to keep the data straight.  All of the confusion around seafood choices is enough to make some choose to opt not to serve it at all rather than make a wrong decision.

For Cod and Country

Instead of fearing an unwise selection, we should focus on the opportunity we have to use our dollars as our voices and support fisheries that are creating positive change. We should remember, at the end of the day that the products we choose to use have more impact in restoring an appropriate relationship with our oceans than do the products we avoid. There are many resources available to consumers and food service providers to help guide these choices. The National Geographic Seafood Decision Guide and the Marine Stewardship Council guidelines are great examples.

As we think about Earth Day, please remember that over 70% of the planet’s surface is oceans. Any impact we have on our waters has very real implications on our own well-being and that of our communities. For Cod and Country is written as a celebration of the delicious opportunity we have to participate in restoring not only the health of the oceans but also the health of our bodies. You will find many of the dishes within rely very heavily on vegetables for flavor, texture, and bulk. This is no accident– we will never accomplish our goals for the resiliency of oceans nor will we accomplish the goal of healthy communities unless fruit, vegetables and grains make up the majority of our diets.

I know customers will enjoy the seafood that I am proud to serve with Sodexo during this Earth Week. I am thrilled for you to join us in this celebration and in eating with care so that we may continue to eat deliciously from the seas.

A recognized leader in sustainability by the New England Aquarium, Barton Seaver is a chef, author and Fellow with the National Geographic Society.

A New Year Resolution to Create a “Better Tomorrow”

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Larry Simpson

Call it a random act of kindness, an opportunity to make the world a better place, or simply a way to make a contribution to the world through actions. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what it’s called as long your volunteer work helps improve your community. This is the time of year when people are making resolutions and plans to improve themselves, but I encourage everyone to think about how they can use their professional skills and experience to improve their community.

Two years ago, my wife encouraged me to serve as a member of our town’s Energy Advisory Committee. The group’s goal was to achieve the “Green Communities” designation by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Resources, which calls for a 15% reduction of energy consumption over a five-year period. Reaching the goal would give us the chance to preserve tax dollars by redirecting energy savings into education and enhanced municipal services.

Because of my professional involvement with Sodexo, especially our work improving student well-being and achievement in school districts nationally, combined with personal interest to get involved with my community, it seemed like a perfect fit. I volunteered as chair of the committee and led a two-year collaborative process that allowed us to achieve our goal of becoming a “Green Community.” In addition, the innovation and leadership the committee demonstrated throughout the process earned us the recognition as “2012 People of the Year” by the Standard Times.

Click for more information on the Sodexo Better Tomorrow Plan

It was through this effort and others like it that I learned how behaviors can send direct and indirect ripples through our world…both positive and negative. If we hold a door for someone, offer a comforting word or perform a small (or large) act of benevolence it may cost little or nothing at all. But, the potential impact of our actions may have profound effect if they are compounded by the actions of many.

Sodexo uses its Better Tomorrow Plan as a road map to achieve goals related to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. One of the primary goals is to support local community development.  Although I didn’t set out to advance The Better Tomorrow Plan when I began working on this project, I understand the importance of its goal and I am doing my part by improving the community through this committee.

This year, I challenge you to do what you can to make a difference in your own community. Giving freely of your time and talent to help make the world a better place is one of the greatest and most satisfying gifts you can give. You may just find a resolution worth sticking to.

Larry Simpson is a director of the Sodexo Education segment in Lakeville, Massachusetts.

Enjoying the Cherry Blossoms through an Artist’s Eyes

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Winner Samia Hall with her interpretation of what the Cherry Blossoms mean to her. For additional pictures and artwork, please click the picture.

When I think of spring in Washington DC I think National Cherry Blossom Festival. Sure, there is also the beginning of a new baseball season and countless other popular events available to the public, but nothing else impacts the city, visually, financially or emotionally, quite like the cherry blossoms.

I once again had the pleasure of discovering how the cities’ youth envision this iconic symbol of springtime in the nation’s capital. As the sponsor of two youth programs at the National Cherry Blossom Festival – the Youth Poster Art Contest and the Youth Ambassadors Program, Sodexo had the opportunity to participate in the festival’s opening day presentations. It was there that I had the honor of welcoming the winners of the Youth Poster Art Contest on stage and introducing them to those in attendance. Their artistic works were exhibited at the National Building Museum and viewed by thousands of visitors attending the ceremonies.

The creativity and talent demonstrated in the artwork of these K-12 students from Washington DC’s public and charter schools was tremendous. Tasked only with submitting entries that drew inspiration from the cherry blossoms and the message of friendship and good will that they represent, students from 24 area schools submitted posters in the form of digital artwork, paintings, drawing and works involving mixed media.

It was exciting to see how the students managed to capture the beauty and the sentiment of the blossoms in their work. In speaking with many of them it was clear that they likewise understood the special message that the blossoms signify this year, in the wake of Japan’s still unfolding tragedy.

The depictions of enduring friendship, unity and hope for a bright future were themes that could be seen in numerous poster entries, including that of overall winner, seventh grader Samia Hall of Kelly Miller Middle School.

Their vision of the cherry blossom is larger than the pink and white petals that draw more than a million tourists from around the world. It’s always refreshing to see this harbinger of spring from a fresh new perspective.

Scott Loretan is senior vice president, of the Sodexo Schools Segment

Emit Less – Go Trayless!

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Sodexo's Weigh the Waste campaign at Paul Smith's College

How would you react if someone took a quarter of all the groceries that you just purchased and tossed them directly into the trashcan?

Americans waste nearly 25 % of the food produced in this country and the environmental impact of these actions is widespread, touching on everything from water and energy consumption to the production of ozone depleting greenhouse gases. That’s 31 million tons in food waste every year. Thankfully, however, there are a few solutions that are catching on and helping to raise awareness about food waste. Trayless dining is one of them.       

As the food service provider that led the trayless dining initiative in our industry beginning on Earth Day 2008, it is rewarding to see that the trend is spreading to others in our profession –all while helping students, campuses and communities alike to reap the environmental, economic and health benefits associated with going trayless.

Our efforts at well over half of the 650 college campuses that Sodexo serves have shown that trayless dining can reduce food waste by as much as 30%. Less waste also means less water, energy and chemical detergents required in the cleaning process. More importantly, it means that there will be significantly less food decaying in landfills, producing methane, a greenhouse gas, which is at least 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Beyond the sustainability argument for dining operations, going trayless encourages healthier eating habits for students in terms of portion control. It has been shown that with a trayless approach, students are more likely to eat what they carry back to the table as opposed to returning and discarding half eaten food from overloaded trays. Finally, from a cost standpoint, trayless dining also greatly reduces the expense involved with purchasing and replacing trays.

Yes, there will still be students who wax nostalgic about the extracurricular uses of dining hall trays. However, as they become increasingly aware of the benefits of going trayless, this too will fade.

Kirt Ingram, senior vice president of operations at Sodexo, was an early champion of trayless dining and first piloted the program at multiple campus locations in 2007.

Delicious Recipes for Good Heart Health

Monday, February 7th, 2011

As part of our 14 Better Tomorrow commitments, Sodexo is promoting an increased choice of food with reduced sugars, salts and fats. We thought it would be a natural fit since February is the launch of National Wear Red Day and also American Heart Month by the American heart Association. It’s a reminder that preventing heart disease should be a priority.

We also want to remind you that good heart health can also be delicious! For example, below are three delicious heart-healthy recipes which you can print out and cook yourself at home. I also recently shared them with the viewers of WUSA, the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC.

Let me know how they turned out for you!

Fat Free Hummus Recipe

Lighthouse Clam Chowder Recipe

Strawberry Cloud Cupcake Recipe

David Willard is an Executive Chef with Sodexo Healthcare

Taking Food Waste Reduction to the Bank

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

What’s the most expensive object in a foodservice operation?  Many managers will tell you it’s an empty seat, one which could otherwise be occupied by a paying guest.    While empty seats certainly represent a significant concern, there’s another object in a foodservice operation which may prove just as expensive over time.  What is it?  

The garbage bin.  In this modest vessel, food waste comes to rest.  The foodservice operator pays for this food repeatedly.  Initially, they pay for the raw materials.  This is followed by labor expenses for handling and processing.  Then there are energy and water bills for refrigeration, cooking, and cleaning.  Finally, there is cost to haul food waste to a landfill.    Food waste drains significant dollars from foodservice operations while adding zero value.  

Economically, this food waste creates several problems:

  • It drives up the cost of food for all diners because every customer shares in the “cost of waste.”   If 10% of food becomes pre-consumer food waste, everything on the menu must be a little more costly to cover the expense of those wasted items.  At the end of the day, we all pay more for waste, even though none of us ordered it from the menu.
  • When food dollars go into the garbage, fewer financial resources are left to maximize menu quality and variety.   Chefs want to dazzle guests, but they need resources to do so.  It doesn’t help to put these precious food dollars in the garbage.
  • Staff members spend significant time preparing food that may not be needed.  They also clean plates following service, manually scrapping food waste and moving heavy totes filled with water-laden food.   This prevents them from performing higher value-added activities for customers.

But there are solutions.  

In the kitchen, start with a food waste audit.  Determine a baseline waste amount.  Then track food waste regularly.  Daily pre-consumer food waste tracking represents a best management practice, very similar to reconciling the cash register every day. Use tracking data to target areas for improvement, and work on each area in a focused way, moving from one to the next sequentially.

In addition, provide guests with information about post-consumer food waste to raise their awareness.  Eliminate trays in all-you-care-to-eat operations.  Offer smaller portion options.  Encourage dining guests to take only what they will consume.  

Food waste can be reduced significantly with attention to the topic, collaboration among staff, and guest education.   By doing so, the  cost of waste will drop dramatically, and resources will move from languishing in the garbage bin to flourishing on a guest’s plate.   Staff will have extra time available to optimize and enhance customer experiences.     Everyone wins with food waste prevention; there are no losers.    In this way, you can take a reduction food waste right to the bank.

Andrew Shakman is Co-Founder and President of LeanPath, a technology company providing automated food tracking systems and waste consulting services to the foodservice and hospitality industry. He can be reached via