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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What our clients are saying

“What a wonderful dinner we had tonight for our international families. The food was delicious and well presented as well.”

“Thank you for including me today in the food waste demonstration/[chef competition] and flattering me with the role of “judge.” I will proudly don the [Stop Food Waste Day] apron the next time I plan an “event” in our own kitchen. I think this is a very worthwhile cause and the statistics you read off are staggering. They, alone, can intimidate a home chef, let alone be the “driver’ for a professional one.”

“Thank you and your staff for all the care and thought you give CSW adults and students. You approach events with such care and elegance- I don’t know how you do it! Especially day after day. Please thank all your staff for their wonderful work and kind manner with all of us. Here is to a great year!”

“Many, and I do mean many, thanks for a great Parents Weekend.  I heard from so many happy parents and you all work very hard to make it happen.  In gratitude and kindness…”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“I ALWAYS feel spoiled by the meal offerings at CSW (The Cambridge School of Weston) and am entirely grateful for it. As I eat today's delicious and lavish lunch (and think about yesterday's as well), I can't tell you how much I feel so well cared for here, both with the food and by the dining hall staff. CSW cares for us in so many ways, both big and small.”

“Thank You! Chef Budd [and team], you overcame a new online ordering system (and hundreds of labels daily!), provided creative and healthy menus, continued to connect with local farmers to incorporate locally sourced ingredients, and worked tirelessly to serve the school community on three campuses.  While it feels like you are all a little like the Wizard of Oz right now, working behind a curtain in a kitchen far away, we sense your smiles and your passion to deliver the best possible service during these trying times. We are all so grateful!”

“I will say that CulinArt has always been a very collaborative partner to T. Rowe Price, listening to our current needs and future goals and suggesting realistic and achievable strategies to meet those goals.  2020 was obviously no exception.  CulinArt also altered other areas of our OCS and pantry programs to create safer environments for all our associates. We can only thank you for your continued flexibility and innovative ideas through these difficult times.”

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