Reusable containers catch on Webb School - CulinArt Group

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Reusable containers catch on Webb School

OWINGS MILLS, MD., July 28, 2021—Last spring, classes resumed at The Webb Schools, in Claremont, Calif., in what can only be described as a compromise brought on by the pandemic: while classrooms were not open and students were not permitted to interact with teachers or each other, they gathered in socially distanced groups of 200 known as “cohorts” in a facility on campus large enough to accommodate all of them without putting them in imminent danger. This was at a time when vaccine appointments were hard to come by and uncertainty (which still lingers) about whether kids should even be vaccinated continued to be debated.

In their modified “cohort classrooms,” students wore masks, sat socially distanced from each other, and peered into their laptops as teachers provided instruction from otherwise empty classrooms. It’s not quite the experience one of California’s most prominent independent schools wished to provide, but it was the best decision given the circumstances and undoubtedly taught administrators a few lessons themselves.

One of those lessons was the cost advantage of investing in reusable, eco-friendly takeout containers—for use in providing meals to the cohorts—as a way to avoid paper costs long-term. According to Armando Amezcua, CulinArt’s foodservice director, Webb spent about $6,800 on containers—1,200 containers at $5.69 apiece—and expects to recoup that investment in avoided paper costs in a couple of years.

For example, Amezcua’s team prepared meals for those 200 students for a three-month period beginning March 1. Students came to campus on certain (but not all) days of the week until the end of May. This amounted to about 65 operating days and use of 200 resuable containers a day. Shrinkage—loss of containers—was a challenge, of course, as it is wherever these containers are used.

But some quick math shows the wisdom in the school’s approach: It would cost about $50 a day to package those meals in a biodegradable container, or a total of $3,250. Amezcua says that no more than 150 eco-containers were lost over the three-month span, which works out to approx. $850. So even with the loss, CulinArt’s use of the reusable containers avoided more than $2,400 in paper expense.

It will take some time before Webb’s entire investment in containers pays for itself. In the meantime, students are learning lessons in both sustainability and responsibility; Amezcua’s team is getting better at recovering containers to prevent loss; and use of paper is diminishing. “It’s a big difference,” Amezcua says, in comparing the cost of paper with the advantage that use of reusable containers brings to the operation. “Even if you don’t get all the containers back, you save a lot of money on other paper products.”

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  • July 29, 2021
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“We are so thankful and so impressed by your immediate attention to our power outage. It was such a relief to see all the equipment and workers coming in within a few hours of the outage. Thank you for serving dinner to all [the] students in a very difficult circumstance. Please extend our thanks to your workers who braved cold weather to grill hamburgers and hotdogs.”

“Dear Chef Anthony: Hi! It’s the kids from Room 223 [and their teacher, Mrs. Smith]. We thank you for providing us with such great snacks and lunches! We know how hard you and your staff work. We have been talking as a class and we came up with some of our favorite snacks. We really love the brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and Scooby snacks. The soft pretzel bits are really good, too. Thank you again! ”

“I have really appreciated the wonderful cafeteria staff we have via Culinart and the thoughtful meals they provide our kids. They're truly one in a million. I have also really appreciated the dedication Parker and CulinArt share to sustainability and green practices on campus. I am so thankful that Parker has chosen CulinArt, a company that shares Parker values, and that they took the time and effort at such a hard time to make sure that Parker is always on the forefront of green practices and safety - never compromising.”

“With all the prep work from Winterim ramping up and classes continuing as usual, it's a busy time to be a Forman teacher. Imagine my delight, tired as I was, when I delved into the upscale-restaurant-quality chicken parmesan our dining hall served last night. Forman is all about support, and providing our students with a dinner of that quality is just as important a measure of support as anything that happens in a classroom.”

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“We appreciate the excellent service that is a hallmark of the Chadwick Culinart team. You all are such professionals - and you always deliver your service in such a pleasant manner! Thank you for everything you do to help make the Village events successful. We greatly appreciate your talents, efforts, and kindness.”

“I just wanted to tell you what a fantastic job you guys are doing with the lunch delivery to Pratt [Street]!! I order from CulinArt each day that I am at the Pratt office and it’s been great every time. The food is delicious – especially the soups! It’s so nice to have consistently good food without having to worry about leaving the building. I really appreciate it. Keep up the great work!”

“The roasted tofu/noodle/edamame arugula salad with cabbage, carrots and red peppers was something that I would buy from a restaurant or food truck without question. It would win best school lunch in the U.S. without a doubt if there was such a competition! The textures and flavors were a perfect blend, tied together by an excellent dressing. I don't think anyone would be mad if that popped up on the menu every week. Thanks again to you and your staff for such high-quality food!”

“I can’t thank your entire team enough for the outstanding service, food, displays, everything!  You are a master at detail, and because of that Adam and I were able to focus on the parents.  I know what a sacrifice pulling off a weekend like this means, we are so appreciative and grateful to you all for your talent and generosity.”

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