Earth Day: Working Toward a Sustainable Future One Meal at a Time

Posted on April 17, 2023

Earth Day is a day of awareness and action to promote environmental stewardship. One area where environmental consciousness is critical is in our diets. At Whitsons, we understand the impact that our sustainability practices can have on the environment, making Earth Day an ideal time to reflect on our food choices and their environmental impact.

Whitsons Culinary Group has taken steps to promote environmental sustainability through our food programs.

The Greenleaf Cuisine Program

Whitsons’ Greenleaf Cuisine program offers local produce by sourcing from local farmers, delivering fresher and tastier produce whenever available and in season to our clients while helping to conserve the Earth’s resources.

Our partnership with Red Tomato, a company that sources EcoCertified™ apples from local growers committed to ecological standards, is a great example of how the Greenleaf Cuisine program connects clients to locally grown produce and supports regional farmers for a better, more sustainable food system. Fairfield Public Schools, CT is the first school district in Connecticut to partner with Red Tomato. Students receive apples sourced through Red Tomato's EcoCertified program, which features a network of local growers committed to rigorous ecological standards tailored to local climate conditions. In the future, Red Tomato plans to source seasonal produce from local farms in Connecticut and Massachusetts, including Rogers Orchards, Blue Hills Orchard, Dzen Farms and Plainville Farm. To learn more about this initiative, read this article.

Whitsons also enjoys a partnership with The Common Market, a nonprofit regional food distributor with a mission to connect communities with good food from sustainable family farms. Whitsons sources fresh farm-to-fork produce through their Mid-Atlantic division, delivering local farm foods to districts like Camden City School District, NJ. The partnership allows us to connect the communities we serve to local farms, providing specific grower information with each order so students and community members know where their food is coming from and how its grown.

Whitsons continues to build partnerships with local aggregators, keeping with our commitment to both expanding healthy food access and local food procurement through our Greenleaf Cuisine program and supporting the sustainability efforts of local farmers throughout our communities.

The Veggabóls Program

Whitsons' Veggabóls program, the first plant-based K-12 concept in the country, is another initiative that promotes sustainability. Our plan with this program is to increase the number of plant-based meal options annually, with a goal of reaching 33% plant-based menu offerings at every individual school location by 2025.

In collaboration with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Whitsons is also developing new recipes and tweaking some vegetarian dishes to be entirely free of animal products.

To measure the program’s environmental impact, Whitsons tracked the greenhouse gas emissions saved by increasing plant-based offerings over one month. We found that the emissions saved from just 49 locations totaled 80,820 pounds—the equivalent of driving 90,966 miles, charging 4,459,339 smartphones or planting 17,953 trees.

The Veggabóls program has received recognition from the Food Service Director and The Humane Society. Both commended Whitsons for its commitment to offering more plant-based options, stating that they applaud how “the changes Whitsons is making to their menus will benefit their students, the environment and the welfare of animals for years to come.”

Reduce Your Environmental Footprint with Whitsons

By promoting local produce and plant-based options, Whitsons is taking steps to reduce our environmental impact. Earth Day serves as a reminder that our actions impact the planet and that we can all take steps to reduce our ecological footprint. By making environmentally conscious choices, such as choosing plant-based options or sourcing produce from local growers, we can all contribute to a more sustainable future.

As we continue to expand our programs, we hope to inspire others to join the mission and positively impact the environment. If you are looking for a sustainable culinary provider, reach out to us to get started!