Wed, November 28, 2018

This past June, 450 foodservice executives from across the country and beyond gathered at The Culinary Institute of America’s beautiful Hyde Park, NY campus along the Hudson River to learn and exchange ideas around the business of healthy, sustainable, delicious food choices at the 6th Annual Menus of Change Leadership Summit. The energy was palpable, and the attendance was record-breaking.

As we hear from leaders in various sectors across the collaboratives of the CIA’s Strategic Initiatives Group well as from the growing global community of operators and allies we meet in spreading the word about Menus of Change, it is clear from this summer and fall that the momentum is only continuing to build.

This is welcome news, because if the pace of climate change is any indication, we must ask ourselves: Does the scale and pace of our industry’s change match the urgency and trajectory of the human and environmental health imperatives we are facing?

Toward this end, and in light of some key opportunities in 2019, we are pleased to share the key themes that will provide the core content of the 7th Annual Menus of Change Leadership Summit, which will be held once again at the CIA’s main campus in Hyde Park, NY, June 18-20, 2019.

Key Themes for the 2019 Summit:

Launch of a Pivotal Global Report on Food, Planet, and Health: Translating the EAT-Lancet Commission Findings into Actionable Strategies

EAT is a science-focused non-profit dedicated to food systems transformation, located in Oslo, Norway, and a close collaborator of the CIA, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and our Menus of Change initiative. The Lancet is one of the premier medical journals in the world. Together, the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health has assembled 20 of the globe’s top scientists to achieve an evidence-based consensus on what it truly means to have a diet that is both healthy and sustainable. The Commission’s report—which will be revealed on January 16, 2019—will, for the first time, set specific, numerical targets for national dietary guidance that align optimal nutrition with planetary boundaries that define a safe operating space for humanity.** It’s co-chaired by Harvard Chan School’s own Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the Menus of Change Scientific and Technical Advisory Council, so you know the commission’s report will be based on the best evidence available and the most rigorous analysis possible.

With Menus of Change as a key partner in the effort to translate this groundbreaking report into action, a highlight for attendees of the 2019 summit will be the opportunity to watch and hear lively illustrations from both scientists and chefs about what the key targets are, the implications for the foodservice industry, and how best to engage colleagues around the urgency of acting rapidly in response to them. By the end of the summit, you’ll leave equipped with a deep understanding of the science behind the targets, along with culinary, marketing, and business strategies for taking action in your operation to help reach them. We hope, too, that you feel both the opportunity and the responsibility of being part of this global effort—because while eating patterns vary by country and therefore so do the dietary guidelines for ensuring the health of that population, we all share this one planet.

In keeping with the transition we began last year, the 2019 summit will continue to place greater emphasis on the “how” to make change, as opposed to the “why.” That said, the EAT-Lancet report will provide critical new material behind the why, not to mention how much change, where, by when.

**Suggested Reading: A recent article, Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits,” by M. Springmann et al. (2018) in the journal Nature, previews key elements of the forthcoming EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health.

The Business of Healthy, Sustainable, Delicious Carbohydrates

Given the outsize impact of red meat consumption on chronic disease risk and environmental degradation, reimagining protein has been and will continue to be a critical focal point for Menus of Change as it aims to help foster a brighter future for the foodservice industry. However, also of critical importance—and of significant untapped business and culinary potential—is the issue of the current quality of carbohydrate-based foods served on most menus. Refined grains, added sugar, and sugar-sweetened beverages remain predominant, all while Americans greatly under-consume the tremendously healthy, sustainable, and delicious food categories of whole or minimally processed grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and legumes. All while a huge amount of these refined carbs—from white potatoes to white bread—go to waste. As we know from the work of Drawdown, reducing food waste is the third most promising solution for reversing global warming.

Throughout the 2019 program, you’ll be given insights from a new Menus of Change toolkit for boosting carbohydrate quality on your menus, along with live, rapid-fire case studies from operators who have successfully implemented strategies that help shift away from the crutch and easy appeal of refined carbs. In short, you’ll hear the business case, flavor opportunities, nutritional value, and sustainability rationale behind this long-overdue chance to reimagine the role of this macronutrient on our menus—and leave empowered with the ideas and tools for how to begin such a delicious carbohydrate revolution in your own operation.

The combined global obesity and diabetes juggernaut—and the wreckage it’s creating with out-of-control healthcare costs and human misery—is far from being stopped and reversed. Worldwide, our industry is incubating many of the right kinds of actions needed to confront this daunting challenge. But, as with climate change, the complexity and scale of our task is enormous. We need to accelerate the good work that is already underway, or risk a future with less flexibility to craft our own solutions.

Change Management: What Works

How to make the case for change—and how to engage your colleagues and your organization in committing and driving the change process. At the 2018 summit, the most popular theme based on attendee feedback was “integrated organizational change,” a series of four sessions featuring change-makers in action sharing case studies of how they pulled off specific types of Menus of Change-related innovation within their businesses. In 2019, we’ll revisit that energizing format but with spotlights on different sectors—from quick-service restaurants (QSR) to hotels to noncommercial contract foodservice—and center each roundtable of case studies around a specific MOC principle. Among other topics, these may include sustainable seafood—including aquaculture and opportunities around algae and seaweed (what we might call “aquatic plant-forward”)—and animal welfare. We will also feature leading plant-forward fast casual concepts, both those who’ve been that way from the start, and others who have thrived by managing to steer their decades-old operations and brands in exciting, new, plant-forward directions.

And a Whole Lot More

These themes are topics of special emphasis at the 2019 Menus of Change conference, but by no means are they the only ones we’ll be exploring. You’ll gain insights across all 24 Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus throughout the three-day summit, along with actionable strategies around numerous other topics related to healthy, sustainable, plant-forward menus and the future of the foodservice industry. These will include:

  • The business case for addressing climate change: the changing faces of your customers and their food values
  • Vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian diets: the latest science around concepts of protein “quality” and protein and other micronutrient “adequacy”
  • Culinary strategies for reducing food waste
  • Biodiversity, and why that should be a higher priority for chefs
  • Supply-chain resiliency and climate-smart sourcing strategies

So, register now. You won’t want to miss it! Because what’s the one thing we don’t want to change? Our streak of record-breaking attendance.