Solutions at Your Fingertips
Didier Luneau, General Manager at the Calgary Westin, started a food donation program in Calgary that actually originated in Montreal. I met with Didier last year as my conference was taking place in Calgary and learned how he used a sustainable food donation service offered by a non-profit organization called La Tablée des Chefs. It facilitates the donation of food from his hotel to the local Drop-In and Rehab Centre that currently serves over 1,000 meals a day.
A back of house tour revealed to me a surprisingly easy setup, where everything from salad to desert was being packaged and donated. Didier and his team were featured on the local news showcasing this initiative - check it out on YouTube here - http://bit.ly/1jqE7GD .
This prompted me to approach the Marriot Calgary Downtown and Telus Convention Centre and Stampede Grounds to see if they too would implement the program. Didier had already presented to four venues in Calgary but remained the only property using the program. As a Meeting Planner I was in a position to help prompt these properties and they agreed to join the program. Since then, they have collectively donated over 12,340 portions which equates to over 3,700 kg of food. That’s food otherwise slated for the landfill, so this is a fabulous start and congratulations to the city of Calgary and these venues in particular for their foresight.
As a Meeting Planner I learned that my “ask” helped move this program forward and that means you can ask too! Imagine how much food could be donated across Canada if we got this type of program going in every province?
Most recently I held my annual conference in Ottawa. I had the pleasure of working with the Westin Ottawa and the Ottawa Convention Centre. I met with these properties and they agreed to subscribe to La Tablée des Chefs. The Westin Ottawa has now made this a standard operating practice, following in the footsteps of other Starwood properties including the Westin Calgary and the Sheraton Toronto. Kudos to these properties for their foresight in embracing the program. The Ottawa Convention Centre whose food services are managed by Aramark, agreed to run the program for the duration of my conference. I was pleased to see their willingness to pilot such an initiative and I encourage all convention centres in Canada to consider subscribing to a food recovery program that takes ALL prepared food and ensures its delivery into the community. Convention centres produce large amounts of food and just from my event at the Westin Ottawa and the OCC, 540 nutritious meals were donated to a local shelter.
Even though I implemented all the strategies I could to reduce the food waste, in the end, we still had food left over. It’s a reality of our industry, which is why it is so important to have solutions in place to redistribute this prepared food. Start today – make the ask!