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Menus of Change® Provides Roadmap Through Health and Sustainability Challenges for Foodservice Indus

Thu, June 12, 2014

Cambridge, MA, June 11, 2014  – Participants at the second annual Menus of Change national leadership summit explored the future of the foodservice industry and culinary profession and the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed at a time when their industry is being shaped by concerns about obesity and health care costs, increasing consumer interest how food is produced and where it comes from, and the growing costs of climate change and drought.

“What we as chefs and operators choose to offer as a plate of food has enormous consequences, for the health of our customers and our planet,” said Tim Ryan, president of The Culinary Institute of America, which co-presents the initiative with Harvard School of Public Health–Department of Nutrition. “Right now, we need something akin to a new ‘moonshot’ program to better and more fully realize the possibilities of bringing together deliciousness with healthy, sustainable food choices. Menus of Change is our first step in making this happen.”

Leading chefs and food industry executives from restaurant, hospitality, and foodservice companies as diverse as TGI Fridays, McDonald’s, Hilton, Aramark, and Disney, along with experts from organizations such as the World Bank, Microsoft, Wholesome Wave, sweetgreen, and the New England Aquarium, explored some of the most pressing and timely issues at the intersection of health and nutrition, environmental sustainability, and business. Some highlights include:

  • Protein Consumption and Production: Rethinking the Role of Plants and Animals
  • Climate Change and Menu Strategies to Manage Risk
  • Managing Risk and Opportunity: Incubating Business Models for the Future
  • Consumer Attitudes, Values, and Behaviors: Windows on Our Mid-term Future

Broad industry-wide and academic panels and working sessions focused on topics such as The Practical Business of Making Half the Plate Fruits and Vegetables and Settled vs. Unsettled (and Bad) Science—which aimed at helping the audience understand the varied, and often contradictory, scientific information and research results released nearly daily—while the Sustainable Kitchen Culinary Stage showcased demonstrations by chefs whose creative, flavor, and sustainable business imperatives place them at the forefront of change in the US.

CIA-Harvard Menus of Change Annual Report: Charting the Future of the Food and Foodservice Industry

The highlight of the three-day conference was the release of the Menus of Change Annual Report, which includes a dashboard showing the past year’s progress of the foodservice industry and culinary profession on critical issues at the intersection of public health and nutrition, environmental sustainability and business, along with analyses of those issues and case studies featuring companies that have successfully combined sustainability and profit. The report was developed in collaboration with leading scientists and business experts—the initiative's Scientific and Technical Advisory Council (chaired by Walter Willett, MD, DrPH of Harvard School of Public Health–Department of Nutrition), and Sustainable Business Leadership Council (chaired by Arlin Wasserman, founder of Changing Tastes). Its Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus provides chefs and foodservice leaders with groundbreaking guidance on menu and recipe design and business operations that integrates both environmental and nutrition science imperatives.

“This year’s report shows that the foodservice industry continued to make modest progress over the past 12 months in improving our nation’s dietary intake. But the pace of change has to increase dramatically to address unacceptably high obesity rates and other public health imperatives,” said Dr. Willett. “This year, the scientific community reached significant agreement on the public health impacts of sodium and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and the use of antibiotics in food production, which must all must be reduced, as well as the need to quickly address climate change and water scarcity, which have shifted from future risks to current costs for the industry.” 

A full version of the report is available on this website, as are the PowerPoint presentations from the summit

The 2015 Menus of Change conference will be held June 17–19 at the Marriott Pavilion on The Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park, NY campus. Registration opens September 2, 2014.


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