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Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Bon Appétit prepares for first review

No more pineapple, bananas only at breakfast, buckets to collect wasted food…

Such changes leave students wondering about the future of Bon Appétit. Are these new waste management programs purely environmental, or are they covert attempts to increase profit for Bon Appétit Management Company in the current rocky economy?

According to Bon Appétit General Manager Roger Edens, “It has nothing to do with finances.”

Instead, the recent changes have been implemented as part of the Circle of Responsibility initiative.

The Circle of Responsibility is a nationwide Bon Appétit program that encompasses the company’s goals and standards. According to the description on the Circle of Responsibility boards in the dining halls, Bon Appétit Management Company is driven to create food that is alive with flavor and nutrition, prepared-from-scratch using authentic ingredients.

The program extends beyond food quality to describe in what manner and for what purpose the company operates. “We do this in a socially-responsible manner for the well being of our guests, communities and the environment,” said Egan.
Menu icons inform students of special dietary programs, such as “vegan”, “in balance”, and “seafood watch.” These icons are just one part of the initiative.

Bon Appétit has recently begun tracking the amount of food wasted. Charts in the Prentiss and Jewett dish rooms indicate the amount of food that students throw away daily. Although there is not a chart at the Reid Café, student waste is tracked there nonetheless.

Food waste is also being monitored in the kitchen. The tracking system increases awareness about waste, affecting how chefs prepare the food.

“Maybe you’re cutting the rind around the fruit a little closer,” said Edens. “You know, just little things.”

Bon Appétit will track kitchen, student and catering waste for the next three months. According to Edens, it is still too early to determine the program’s success.

Although their waste reduction programs are environmentally driven, Bon Appétit has felt the impact of the faltering economy.

“In November we knew that the college was going to be cutting back on catering and what not, and we also were beginning to see some declines in cash at the cafes. That has continued on,” said Edens.

This decline has decreased Bon Appétit’s total revenue by about 3%.

One cook mentioned efforts to increase efficiency, whether for environmental or fiscal reasons, by using product more effectively.

“We’re spending our money more wisely and buying less food, being able to stretch the food that we buy,” said Ashley Delgado, a prep cook at Café 66, located in the Reid Campus Center.

Sarah Olson, a cashier and card-checker in Prentiss, has a different take on recent dining hall changes.

“Bon Appétit is trying to upscale to make it seem more elegant,” said Olson.

“We’re trying to get our name out [by having] special types of food, catering to vegans, that sort of thing.”

Bon Appétit’s attempts to improve its image are evidenced by recent décor changes in the dining halls. These changes have been implemented as part of the Great Expectations program.

According to Edens, the Great Expectations program is a “standard that [Bon Appétit Management Company] is looking for all of the accounts to achieve.”

Both Jewett and Prentiss dining halls were repainted over winter break and are waiting for new artwork to arrive. In addition, wooden tables for the tea stations have been added to both dining halls. Prentiss also received a wooden table for its waffle and condiment station.

Although the decorative changes are part of the Great Expectations program, the recent flurry of activity precedes an internal assessment that will occur later this spring.

About three years ago, Bon Appétit Management Company started an assessment program to ensure high standards and consistent ideals at all of its locations.

Bon Appétit at Whitman will have its first assessment at the end of the semester. Edens was notified about this assessment because it’s the first one that Whitman has had, but future assessments may be random. Preparations for the assessment started in October of 2008.

“It’s a big project,” said Edens. “There are a lot of different systems to make sure are in place – little things that we might not have been doing exactly how [Bon Appétit Management Company] would like us to be doing them.”

Bon Appétit’s District Manager and Regional Marketing Director visited campus on Tuesday, Feb. 3, for a preliminary assessment. They met with Edens to discuss progress that has been made since their meeting in the fall, along with improvements that still need to be made for the final assessment.

“Changes have already been made and we’re just kind of finishing up the details,” said Edens.

Edens refuted rumors that Bon Appétit might leave Whitman next year, calling them “unfounded.”

When asked about the likelihood of passing the assessment, Edens’ response was equally concise.

“We’re expected to,” he said. “That’s the reason for the preliminary assessments and what not: to get to the point that the district manager is confident that we will pass without any problems.”

Although it may seem as though Bon Appétit’s changes have been dramatic and sudden, they’ve been in the works for quite some time now.

“Bon Appétit’s always changing, there’s always been things going on. Some of these things are just more visible nowadays, particularly some of the environmental ones,” said Edens.

For more information about Bon Appétit’s Circle of Responsibility program, visit www.circleofresponsiblity.com or simply read the signs in the dining halls. Information specific to Bon Appétit at Whitman is available online at www.cafebonappetit.com/whitman.

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