Helping Customers Achieve Sustainability Goals

As Thresa Pattee and Jessica Langston watched a few hundred people stroll among booths at the recent University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) LivingGreen Fair, they knew they were in the middle of something big.

Pattee is healthcare account manager and Langston is marketing specialist for the US Foods San Francisco Division. They and culinary specialist Jose Velez staffed a US Foods booth at the one-day fair on May 10, which brought UCSF students, faculty and community members together with more than 60 companies and nonprofit groups to learn about sustainable business practices, lifestyles and food.

Put simply, “sustainable” refers to the use of the Earth’s resources to meet present needs without harming the environment or jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs

More Americans than ever are interested in sustainable food. A recent survey by Deloitte Consulting found that half of consumers would like to see more organic products, and 72% say companies’ sustainable food production practices are important to them.

UCSF is a long-time US Foods customer and one of the world's leading centers of health sciences research, patient care and education. In fact, the UCSF Medical Center is consistently ranked among the top-10 hospitals in the United States by U.S. News and World Report. This is the second year US Foods has participated in the LivingGreen Fair, which attracted more than double the number of attendees than in 2011.

“Sustainability is in the DNA of the San Francisco community,” said Pattee, the only vendor representative to sit on UCSF’s Food and Nutrition Sustainability Task Committee that helps the university provide healthy, sustainable food. “UCSF asked us to participate in their fair because we’re working with them to help achieve their sustainability goals and create a more efficient and greener food supply chain.”

UCSF is interested in sourcing more local organic yogurt, cage-free eggs and other products. Organic food doesn’t contain antibiotics, pesticides or other chemicals. In addition, buying local food can reduce fossil fuel use and cut farm-to-fork time, which can mean fresher food. It can also help support the local economy and make communities more self sufficient.

Visitors to the US Foods booth enjoyed delicious samples of fresh, local food, including braised beet and arugula salad with feta and citronette dressing, and organic edamame and mushroom bruschetta on crostinis from Alvarado Street Bakery, a local artisan shop that offers organic, whole grain bread. Attendees also received US Foods recipes and tips on how to eat more sustainable foods.

“I was surprised by the number of people and the high level of community engagement,” Langston said. “There was a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Visitors to our booth were very interested in US Foods and asking a lot of great questions about how we’re helping UCSF and other customers green their food service operations.”

The US Foods San Francisco Division is an industry leader in sustainability and the only food distributor in the bay area state-certified as a Green Business, meaning it conserves resources and prevents pollution.

In 2011, the division activated a 1.18 megawatt, 4,354 photovoltaic solar panel installation — the largest in Alameda County — to provide 40% of the facility’s power during daylight hours. With an output of more than 1.3 million kilowatt hours a year, the solar array generates enough electricity to power nearly 200 average California homes for one year.

“The LivingGreen Fair was a great opportunity to reinforce and promote our strong commitment to sustainability,” said Pattee, who is completing a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in sustainable business. “It was also a way for UCSF to announce to the community that it has partnered with US Foods — a company that is truly committed to sustainability.

“Our goal for next year’s fair is to showcase even more of the sustainable products and ideas that are helping UCSF satisfy diners and boost food sales,” she added. “It’s truly a win-win for everyone.”

University of California, San Francisco
Office of Sustainability
Twitter: @livinggreenucsf