Originally printed in the September 2022 issue of Produce Business.
The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) launched the Have A Plant® movement at its annual Consumer Connection conference in April 2019. Since then, Have A Plant messages to eat more fruits and vegetables have been shared with millions of consumers through PBH digital and social media channels. Today, a group of more than 350 Have A Plant ambassadors contribute to the movement by sharing recipes, photos, videos, tips and hacks with their audiences.
PBH Have A Plant ambassadors come from four categories: retail dietitians who encourage their shoppers to buy, cook with, and eat more fruits and vegetables; foodservice professionals who work to integrate and promote more fruits and vegetable on their menus; agriculture leaders who strive to share fact- and science-based information about fruit and vegetable production; and nutrition and lifestyle social and digital media influencers who use their personal channels to inspire followers.
Have A Plant messages prevail in online channels as well as retail settings, but thanks to the world’s largest contract foodservice company, Compass Group, the Have A Plant movement’s influence is increasing in foodservice settings.
Compass Group is the global leader in contract foodservice. Its brands include Bon Appetit Management Company; Levy, which is a highly regarded brand for foodservice operations at stadiums, arena clubs, convention centers and racetracks; and Restaurant Associates, which is recognized across the East Coast for offering higher end dining services at corporate worksites, cultural and entertainment centers, professional schools and catered events.
Across the United States, other Compass Group business units operate restaurants, corporate employee dining programs, food trucks, healthcare foodservice operations for staff and patients, K-12 school nutrition programs and campus dining programs. Compass Group also owns a hospitality staffing service.
Compass Group is a PBH member that started its Have A Plant promotions in March 2022 in recognition of National Nutrition Month. It placed Have A Plant information and inspiration in accounts across the country, encouraging consumers to “Have A Plan, Have A Plant!” in social media posts and on digital menu boards and posters. “We were delighted to see Compass Group use their incredible consumer reach to motivate more people to be intentional in their efforts to eat more fruits and vegetables,” says Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, president and chief executive officer of the Produce for Better Health Foundation.
Compass Group’s most recent commitment to promote Have A Plant is focused on its Foodworks accounts. Foodworks focuses on employee dining services for corporate worksites, including many high-tech firms on the East and West coasts, as well as manufacturing and distribution companies.
Foodworks is launching a new platform called GREEN this month in celebration of National Fruits & Veggies Month, a month-long celebration of Americans’ favorite plant foods and all the amazing flavors and feelings associated with eating and enjoying fruits and vegetables.
Foodworks’ GREEN program menus are based on The Culinary Institute of America’s Menus of Change Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus. The principles provide guidance for the foodservice industry, guidance that focuses on using a greater proportion of plant-based ingredients in menu items. Foodworks accounts across the U.S. from New York City and Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle will have the opportunity to choose GREEN menus for customers that may be seeking food that is more healthful and produce-centric.
“GREEN is not a focus on specific vegan or vegetarian lifestyles. It’s about a balanced and sustainable approach to health through amazing flavor experiences,” says John Coker, president of Foodworks. “GREEN supports Foodworks customers’ desires for unique, exciting and flavorful experiences in dining that are both healthful and sustainable. GREEN also celebrates the chefs and restaurateurs putting more plant-forward menu items in front of diners from all walks of life.”
Coker and his team are doing a series of launch events in September in select cities to promote GREEN and Foodworks’ partnership with the Produce for Better Health Foundation, including celebrity chef events and wrapping a food truck with the Have A Plant logo to draw attention to the powerful call to action. “Through our unique community-driven culture, we can bring focus and light to plant-forward eating and the Have A Plant movement,” says Coker.
“All of us at the Produce for Better Health Foundation are excited to see John and his Foodworks team putting an emphasis on delicious plant-forward menu options that invite people to Have A Plant, and return time and time again for more fruits and veggies!” says Reinhardt Kapsak. “It’s this kind of innovation and thought leadership in foodservice that will help us further drive increased consumption and enjoyment of fruits and vegetables.”
What’s next for Have A Plant in foodservice? As the industry continues to recover from the pandemic, ongoing supply chain and labor challenges, I anticipate seeing more companies follow Compass Group’s lead, especially in operations that focus on serving millennials and Gen Z customers, like campus dining operations and smaller emerging chains that are focusing on plant-forward menu offerings.
Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND is a farmer’s daughter from North Dakota, award-winning dietitian, culinary nutrition expert, and founder and president of Farmer’s Daughter Consulting, Inc. She is the foodservice strategist for the Produce for Better Health Foundation, a member of the Texas A&M AgriLife External Advisory Board, a member of the Bayer Vegetable Seeds Horticultural Advisory Council, the registered dietitian for the Buy California Marketing Agreement / California Grown, and co-author of Cooking á la Heart, a 500-recipe cookbook based on plant-forward eating cultures from around the world that will be published by Workman Publishing in early 2023. Learn more at www.farmersdaughterconsulting.com, and follow her insights on social media @AmyMyrdalMiller.