Collaboration Aims to Bring More Plant-Based Menu Items To Jewish-Based Food Service Operations

Hazon, the largest faith-based environmental organization in the United States, and the Humane Society of the United States are proud to have worked together on their first ever virtual culinary training focused on bringing more sustainable plant-based menu items to the Jewish community.

The HSUS offers free culinary trainings at food service management companies, colleges and universities, hospitals and healthcare systems, K12 schools and school districts, and other institutions who have signed the Forward Food Pledge.

Becky O’Brien, director of Food and Climate at Hazon, said, “By reducing the amount of animal-based foods on menus and by providing more plant-based options, Jewish institutions can help stem the climate crisis and build a sustainable food system. And all this while being budget-friendly and without making any compromises for diversity and deliciousness. We are so happy to be offering this professional development to help the Jewish community meet growing demand while putting Jewish values into action.”

Nathan Alexander, food service innovation coordinator at the HSUS, said: “Collaborating with this organization has been an outstanding opportunity to make a major impact for the planet, animals, and the communities that Hazon works with. Training culinary teams from across the country is what we strive to do every day and we applaud Hazon for being so forward thinking with their desire to increase delicious, nutritious plant-based options for all guests, from summers campers to those at assisted living facilities.”

Amanda Trenchard, food service innovation specialist at the HSUS said: “Sustainability is a key driver in why the food service industry is embracing plant-based and so collaborating with Hazon on a culinary training was a clear win for everyone. This training has allowed us to reach a larger audience and get closer to our goal of achieving 50% plant-based entrees throughout the food service industry by 2025”

Bookended by live group trainings, participants spent two days preparing recipes and learning new techniques. This Facebook post captures some of the training experiences.

The 20 training participants represented 10 organizations, including: Stein Assisted Living, Pearlstone Conference Center, American Jewish University, Ithaca College, Daughters of Sarah Nursing Home, Tamarack Camps, NYU, Jewish Community Center of Indiana, Hazon, Lodge Lane Assisted Living. Combined, these organizations serve over 10,500 people per day and over 2.3 million meals per year.

This is the latest in this type of professional development opportunity. Jewish Initiative for Animals partnered with the Forward Food program for two trainings, including in 2018 at the Shalom Institute in Malibu, California, for chefs and staff from seven Jewish summer camps and retreat centers from around the country. 

These trainings represent a coordinated effort to incorporate delicious, tried-and-true plant-based recipes into Jewish institutional dining by training dining staff directly with expert chefs. Qualitative assessments have determined that these programs provide win-win-win outcomes – for the diners, who seek a healthier, more inclusive, and still tasty dining experience; for the organizations, who want to promote a culture of sustainable and “kinder” dining and expand their delicious, high protein, parve repertoire in cost-effective ways; and for the chefs and dining staff, who appreciate the professional development as well as the opportunity to better align with their organizations’ Jewish values. Each organization will save 1,600 kg of CO2 every time it serves 1,000 plant-based meals (the equivalent of driving the entire length of the United States from Juneau, Alaska to Jacksonville, Florida), which has a significant immediate impact on their climate footprint, and also meaningfully shifts Jewish institutional culture toward more climate- and Earth-friendly food practices that can be advanced across dining operations over time.

For more information: 

For more on Hazon, visit Hazon.org.

For more on the Forward Food Pledge, visit ForwardFood.org/Pledge.

 

About Becky O'Brien

Hazon is America's largest Jewish environmental organization. We create healthier and more sustainable communities in the Jewish world and beyond. Hazon in Colorado is led by Becky O'Brien, Boulder Director and Sarah Kornhauser, Denver Director.

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