We are extremely proud to be the first caterer in the nation to receive 4-Star Certified Green Restaurant status!
Several years ago, we noticed many caterers and restaurants claiming to be "green." What does that mean? How does a food service company actually prove they are a "green" company? There is so much waste in the food service industry: cardboard, disposables, food, chemicals, energy, etc. A few of our clients were beginning to ask about our "green mission" and having us fill out surveys, so we did some research and decided to get third party certification through The Green Restaurant Association in order to evaluate our environmental sustainability.
In 2010 we had moved into a geothermal building, so we were already one step ahead. We also had a recycling program in place, and were purchasing mostly eco-friendly disposables, but we needed to look deeper into what we were buying and doing. This didn't happen easily, and it took time to implement positive environmental practices and make changes in our operation. We began composting all our food scraps, found a biodiesel service, and changed the chemicals we were using. Besides making a great product and providing superb service, our goal as a foodservice company is to reduce waste through an aggressive composting and recycling program, by turning vacant lots into urban gardens, and by purchasing sustainable products.
When the GRA notified us that we had received a 4 Star rating, the highest rating, we were thrilled. Only one other company in Chicago has achieved this. We're now 1 of 20 restaurants (and caterers) in the country who have truly gone beyond what a normal food service company would do. We know we aren't perfect, and we need to continue to stay on track, so we continue to train our staff to make our company greener.
Here is sample of what we're doing to express our commitment to the environment:
- We compost all food scraps and biodegradable paper goods from our kitchen and Canteen. Much is recycled into our garden. The rest is picked up by a local composting service.
- We donate all our used vegetable oil to a biodiesel service, which turns it into fuel for vehicles and glycerin for soap.
- We have a recycling system in place.
- Our building is geothermal.
- A local shelter picks up our excess food twice a week.
- Our cleaning chemicals meet the highest green standards.
- We've improved our water efficiency by making changes to our faucets.
- We only use compostable disposableware (unless requested otherwise).
- In 2016 we harvested close to 3,000 pounds of produce from our farm, with our highest crop yield being tomatoes.
- We support farm-raised meat and ocean-friendly seafood.
- We grow our own microgreens and herbs indoors.
- We have two busy beehives in our urban farm.