Sodexo, a global food services and facilities management leader, is expanding its collaboration with the Humane Society of the United States with new initiatives aimed at tackling climate change and reducing the company’s carbon footprint. The new initiatives focus on increasing plant-based menu options that will end up on Sodexo menus at hundreds of universities across the United States. This is part of Sodexo’s overall strategy to reduce their carbon emissions 34% by 2025.
The HSUS has been working with Sodexo for more than 15 years to foster a more humane supply chain by developing responsible sourcing strategies and, more recently, to increase the number of plant-based offerings at its dining facilities by providing technical assistance via recipes, sample menu ideas, nutritional advice and hands-on culinary training. The continuation of the successful collaboration with the HSUS further speaks to Sodexo’s commitment to quality ingredients, health, sustainability and addressing evolving consumer dietary preferences.
Sodexo’s internal analysis has shown that at least 70% of their U.S. supply carbon footprint was related to animal-based food purchases in fiscal year 2020. Production of plant-based foods emits significantly less greenhouse gasses and requires less water and land when compared to animal-based foods. According to the recent Innova Health & Nutrition Survey, 23% of 18-to-25-year-olds adhere to either a vegetarian or vegan diet, with nearly a third of youth increasing their consumption of plant-based proteins in 2021 alone. To meet this demand, Sodexo Campus is aspiring to have 42% of their planned menu offerings being plant-based by 2025.
Plant-Based Takeovers are an example of a new initiative already in–progress. The Takeovers involve Sodexo chefs undergoing plant-based menu training led by the HSUS. The chefs then prepare nutritious plant-based menu items for each station in the university’s dining hall. Students, staff and faculty at the 140 Sodexo universities that have implemented the program are invited to try each of the items and provide feedback.
“It’s important for us to receive feedback directly from the customer as it helps us identify which plant-based dishes will become permanent fixtures on our menus,” explained Chef Jennifer DiFrancesco, director of culinary innovation for Sodexo Campus.
“Any sustainability plan that’s meant to create real change—and not just be greenwashing jargon—will center on shifting from a meat-heavy menu to one that’s focused on plant-based entrées. I’m thankful to Sodexo for being a leader in the industry by committing to the tangible changes required to meet greenhouse gas emission goals. By developing a plant-based initiative that includes menu goals, recipe innovation and customer satisfaction, Sodexo has found a formula for success,” said Karla Dumas, RDN, director of food service innovation for the Humane Society of the United States.
Overall, Sodexo is committed to serving plant-based meals wherever and whenever possible in an effort to reduce the impacts of climate change. The ongoing collaboration with the HSUS continues to be integral in fulfilling these plant-based commitments.