Employee Spotlight – Luis Melara

Posted by on Feb 11, 2016 in healthy food, lunch time, school food | 0 comments

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This week we highlight the great work of our newest school supervisor, Luis Melara! Luis has been working at Butter Beans for almost two years and was recently promoted to supervisor at the Churchill School for his great work there.

Luis, from Brooklyn, says his favorite part of working for Butter Beans is working in the school environment. For Luis, any bad day can be cured by chatting with the kids at lunch. Luis likes that Butter Beans offers healthy food and loves to encourage the students to eat veggies and fruits everyday at lunch. He hopes some day to manage his own food or service business.

In his free time, Luis loves to explore new foods. He’s always looking for new ways to cook up his classic chicken dishes. Additionally, he loves to draw and sketch and is a big fan of street art. Ask him what’s on his radio, and it’ll always be classic 90s hip-hop. Best of all, Luis is known around Butter Beans as a legendary story-teller; you’ll have stop by lunch sometime to hear him tell a tale!

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Trending Towards Healthy – The Year in Food

Posted by on Jan 28, 2016 in families, fast food, featured articles, Food for thought, food politics, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, news and happenings, nutrition, raising children, school food, sustainability | 0 comments

Looking back at the year in food, we feel more strongly than ever that we are part of a larger movement towards healthier eating. As this article from NPR points out, evidence of these trends can be seen in the biggest producers. Reacting to consumer demands, even McDonald’s has taken steps to use healthier, more sustainably produced ingredients. This shows that clearly we are part of a larger movement changing how everyone eats, not just those already shopping at Whole Foods.

We at Butter Beans are often told that we are just providing good food to a small niche. This article proves that change we are part of is now reaching all parts of the food system and our “niche” is only growing. Sales of foods marketed towards health and sustainability conscious consumers surged in 2015, indicating that a much larger trend is only beginning. As the health benefits of nutritious eating become more and more apparent (especially for young kids in schools), all kinds of consumers are acting to create a change.

If you believe in critical tipping points that propel major changes, this past year hinted that one such shift may lie near on the horizon. Often the best way to measure the success of a movement is to follow the actions of the largest and most influential actors in the industry. The fact that big, highly profit-driven companies such as Kraft are seeking to include more natural ingredients in their products makes us hopeful for the future. Healthy foods are no longer just for yoga-moms and crunchy-foodies; now all kinds of Americans are showing concern for the kinds of foods carried by even large chain supermarkets and fast-food joints. This is how a paradigm shift occurs. At Butter Beans, we see everyday how we can shape the next generation of healthy, food-educated consumers to demand that America becomes a nation that embraces nutritious food.

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Employee Spotlight – Athena Cameron

Posted by on Jan 19, 2016 in Food & Farm program, Food for thought, healthy food, school food, wellness | 0 comments

 

 

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This week we spotlight one of our longest working servers, Athena Cameron. Athena, from Gravesend, Brooklyn, has been with Butter Beans since 2011, making this her 5th school year working as one of our most reliable and enthusiastic servers.

Athena loves to be in the school setting and her favorite part of each day is interacting with the kids and her coworkers. She worked in school lunch before coming to Butter Beans and loves to see how much kids appreciate the healthier lunches that we make.

Motivated to work for Butter Beans because of her passion for kids nutritional eating, Athena also cares deeply the wellness of animals. Outside of her work at Butter Beans, Athena spends many hours volunteering at local animal shelters. One day she hopes to start a shelter of her own and build a refuge for our animal friends.

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Employee Spotlight – Jermaul

Posted by on Dec 15, 2015 in Food for thought, healthy food, lunch time, news and happenings, nutrition, school food | 0 comments

IMG_1133This week we begin a feature where we put the spotlight on a Butter Beans employee who is critical to everything we do but doesn’t get outward attention.

First up, ace delivery man Jermaul. Jermaul plays an essential role in getting our food fresh and on time to the schools. Jermaul has been with Butter Beans for two years and he quickly has become our “do everything” man, keeping the operation of getting food to nine schools under control, on time, and running smoothly.

Jermaul grew up in St. Louis before moving out to New York to join his brother in Brooklyn. Jermaul likes that Butter Beans uses all natural foods and feels invested in the mission. As a father himself, he knows the importance of kids eating healthy foods at lunch. Outside of his job at Butter Beans, ball is life – Jermaul is a sports fanatic who is always ready to tell you about the night’s big match-up.

We can’t imagine how Butter Beans would run without Jermaul!

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What Being on the Inc 5000 List Means to Butter Beans

Posted by on Nov 19, 2015 in cooking with kids, families, featured articles, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, nutrition, raising children, school food, wellness | 0 comments

By Belinda DiGiambattista, Butter Beans co-founder and CEO

I’m often asked to describe my profession when meeting someone new. When I explain that I founded a company whose mission is to connect children and adults to the food they eat through providing healthy lunch programs and food education, the person to whom I am talking connects immediately with this and declares, “I wish you were in my child’s school and my office! All the parents where I live would love this.”

I feel honored every day to provide jobs in my community that aim to serve school children, teachers, and adults healthy meals. Everyone on our team takes their responsibility seriously knowing we provide fresh vegetables, fruits, proteins and grains that nourish the bodies and minds we feed.

This year, I am proud to share that Butter Beans has found a place on the Inc 5000 fastest growing companies in America, which is based on the past three years of company growth. This achievement comes to us a result of the collective efforts of our committed and passionate team members, as well as the schools and organizations that entrust our company with the care of their meal programs.

There are many reasInc5000galapicwitheditorons to celebrate this occasion, but perhaps the most important reason has to do with what the success of a wellness company like Butter Beans means for our society. Parents, students and workers are voting with their forks every day when they choose to eat a hot, wholesome meal made from scratch and comprised of mostly vegetables, healthy grains, and ABF, hormone-free proteins. They accompany this hot meal with salad, eggs, raw veggies, fruit, homemade granola, yogurt (with no sugar added), and bean spreads like hummus.

Felicia Desrosiers and I started Butter Beans in 2008, in large part to reverse the statistic reported by the Center for Disease Control that “The generation of Americans born in the year 2000 is the first in history to have a shorter life expectancy than its parents.” Improving our children’s eating habits over time by providing a healthy school lunch and experiential food education, moves our country one child closer to reversing this statistic every day.

Being an entrepreneur brings new challenges to bear every day. But with those challenges, come an equal number of reasons to take pride in this work. Seeing the number of jobs these 5,000 companies have created in the past three years acknowledges the payoff for all of the work we do day in and day out to keep our companies alive and thriving. The Inc 5000 companies created a combined one million+ jobs for the US economy over the past three years.

This blog post is dedicated to our employees for making Butter Beans possible and to our customers who trust us to serve their precious jewels every day or who visit our cafeteria at their place of work. Butter Beans will continue to strive for excellent service in all of our schools, while providing our employees with opportunities for growth in this important field of food and wellness. Here’s to the next three years!

 

 

 

 

 

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food supply realities

Posted by on Aug 7, 2015 in agriculture, Food for thought, healthy food, school food | 0 comments

We’d like to welcome our Executive Chef, Nicholas Littell as a guest blogger. His post discusses the increase in the price of eggs that we are currently experiencing (August, 2015). We hope that this insider look into the food supply will add more transparency to our collective food realities, and inspire us to question price increases in our food system. 

2607036664_da729b4bd5_zThe price of eggs have tripled.  I reread the statement, yes it still really says that.  I checked an old invoice, maybe my brain isn’t working right and I’m not remembering the price…nope still triple.

In my business it isn’t unusual for the company you buy food from to “accidentally” increase the price on an item from time to time.  Usually it’s a small change and sometimes it’s a moderate change, but triple?  I suspect they know that I buy hundreds of items a week and it wouldn’t be difficult for something to be missed.  Prices constantly fluctuate for a myriad of reasons, weather, season, packaging changes, and, I was soon to find out, something even more disheartening.

Before I call a company about an error I like to arm myself with as much information as possible in order to stop any argument before it begins.  Most of the prices on the common things we eat are set by market prices, this is the base price and then the company you actually buy from generally adds a small percentage in order to make their business work.  The normal addition is 5% to as much as 20%.

It is my job as the chef to make sure that, that addition is as small as possible.  The best way to see how much you are being charged for their service is to check the market price, which is easily accessed through the USDA website, thank you internet!  So I opened my browser and headed over to USDA.gov, and wouldn’t you know it the price of eggs really has gone up.

10895790773_dea21e4a4a_zThe next thing I did, sent me down the rabbit hole.  I googled “why are eggs so expensive?”  It turns out the United States has been hit with an avian flu epidemic.  What started slowly in British Columbia has spread through migratory ducks to Washington State and Oregon then exploded when it hit Minnesota with over 50% of all turkeys in the United States.  This quickly spread to Iowa which is the largest state in regard to chicken and egg production, they hold over 20% of the egg laying hens.  This unfortunately has resulted in the “culling” of more than 26 million chickens in the past couple months with more to come.

I have been involved in the food supply chain in some facet for over twenty years, and I have never seen the things I am starting to see with more regularity over the past decade.  Starting with the global rice crisis in 2008, to the food shortages in the Middle East that spurred the Arab Spring, and to something as simple as the price of eggs.

Our food system is in a precarious position. We are running out of water in our largest agricultural state and our soil is the poorest in quality it has ever been.  There are a multitude of other examples of issues and causes that would be beyond the scope of this blog post, but I think you see what I am getting at.

I don’t think there is a silver bullet for this, I do think that it will take a massive shift in how people think about the way we eat and the effect our daily actions have in the way we as people live in nature and not as an outsider to it.

How will this food supply reality impact school lunch? We are in the process of reconsidering the amount of eggs that we use until the situation improves. We believe that even without eggs present on our cold or hot bar menu, that there will still be plenty of good protein available for our customers to enjoy each and everyday.

Photos courtesy of Woodley Wonder Works & David Goehring

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