Local Food Partners
Food For Thought purchases the bulk of our locally-sourced produce through distribution companies Testa Produce, FarmLogix and Sysco. Testa Produce operates a LEED Platinum Certified facility on Chicago's south side and sources from farms in Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio. Farmlogix works to connect distributors, wholesalers and other food purchasers with locally produced foods. A few of the products we purchase through Testa Produce and Farmlogix include cage free eggs from Phil's Fresh Eggs in Forreston IL, breads from Highland Bakery and locally-crafted sodas from Goose Island.
For many of our pre-prepared items, we've developed relationships with local Chicago businesses, including fresh breakfast pastries from WestTown and Central Continental Bakeries, delectable desserts from Eli's and fair-trade, locally roasted Intelligentsia coffee and espresso.
Preventing Food Waste
Source reduction is our primary strategy to prevent food waste. "We try to use everything we can before throwing anything away. We frequently cook soups and stews using homemade stocks and take care to prepare our produce in ways that create as little waste as possible. Our staff has been trained and are encouraged to come up with new ways to use every bit of food in our kitchen."—Tom Chovanes (Food For Thought Manager).
At the end of each day, we donate our leftover food, such as roasted chicken, cooked rice and sautéed vegetables to Chicago's Pacific Garden Mission, a shelter that provides housing and sustenance for people in need. We also work with Zero Percent, a food recovery company that coordinates Food For Thought's food donations companywide. Thanks to Zero Percent, we can now track how much we have donated.
For our food waste deemed unfit for consumption, we partner with the Instructional Resources Facilities Management (IRFM) department to ensure that it is taken care of in the most appropriate way possible. We separate and collect food scraps from our Neiman Center and Columbus Cafe kitchens into designated green compost bins. IRFM then organizes for the scraps to be picked up and taken to an industrial composting facility where they are turned into soil used in landscaping projects throughout Chicago. We also save our used fryer oil, which IRFM then collects to be picked up and recycled by Mahoney Environmental.
We regularly collaborate with the SAIC community on sustainability focused meetings, projects and events. Every month we attend Sustainable SAIC's monthly open meeting to keep up to date with their current sustainability initiatives, goals and progress. In an initiative to encourage reuse, we partnered with SAIC Student Government and Sustainable SAIC to create sustainability themed reusable coffee cups. They are available at all of our campus cafes for $1.00 and customers receive 30¢ discount on their coffee with each use. We also offer a discount on coffee purchases when customers bring their own re-usable coffee cup.