Sodexo has taken the Meatless Monday initiative nationwide, expanding it to its more than 900 hospital client accounts across the country following successful pilot implementations at a number of hospitals, schools and colleges.
The program, which emphasizes a meatless entree choice one day a week in order to encourage the consumption of less animal fats and more whole grains, legumes and fresh produce, has also been made available to Sodexo’s corporate and government accounts. Sodexo plans to have menus and materials supporting the program in place at its corporate and government clients by spring and will officially launch it in its college and K-12 sites this fall, though about a dozen have already implemented it on their own. The company’s senior living community clients will also pilot the program for residents and staff in 2011.
Meatless Monday was developed in 2003 by the advocacy group The Monday Campaign with the assistance of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. Designed to promote healthy food choices that are also good for the planet, it relies on research indicating that diets rich in whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts, and fruits along with a regular exercise program is consistently associated with lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, less obesity and consequently less heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and overall mortality.
“Once people realize that vegetarian meals provide the protein that they need and are just as interesting, flavorful— and fun to prepare—people find them easy to integrate into their lives,” says Shawn Fields, executive chef for the Cobblestone Café at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Fields has been providing Meatless Monday options to his 1,800 customers every day since April 2010.
“Sodexo is proud to combine our culinary expertise with the knowledge of our clinical dietitians to integrate meatless meal options that meet the nutritional needs of students learning in schools, patients recovering in hospitals, and employees engaging worksite wellness programs,” says Nitu Gupta, vice president of brand management for Sodexo Healthcare. “Meatless Monday provides a healthy and tasty alternative for people looking to implement a healthy diet change, which explains why it has been so popular.”