Bon Appetit Makes Strides With Reformed Animal Welfare Policy

Abigail Schubach


Two weeks, ago Bon Appétit, the company that manages Lawrence’s dining system, announced a nationwide step against animal cruelty in the food business.

By the end of 2015, all pork served by Bon Appétit will be produced without gestation crate confinement and with higher-welfare group housing systems.

All pre-cracked eggs — currently 11 million served annually — will be produced from hens living in cage free farms. This has been the Bon Appétit policy for shell eggs since 2005. Additionally, foie gras — livers of force-fed ducks and geese — and veal from crate-raised calves will be eliminated from all menus.

Lastly, 25 percent or more of its meat, poultry and egg purchases will be sourced from producers that meet at least one of the four highest animal-welfare certifications as listed by the United States Department of Agriculture: Animal Welfare Approved, Food Alliance, Humane Farm Animal Care or Global Animal Partnership.

These four programs have standards that prohibit practices such as gestation crates and battery cages, and require animals to be allowed to engage in their natural behaviors. Because Bon Appétit has 400 dining locations in 31 states and buys three million pounds of pork annually, these changes are expected to make a massive impact. 

“We’re going to get it done,” said Fedele Bauccio, CEO and founder of Bon Appétit Management Company, “probably through lots of small, regional ranchers and farmers.”

Helene York, Bon Appétit’s director of strategic resourcing and research said, “it will not be easy. We are already having hard conversations with our current suppliers, who will have to change their practices by our deadline or else lose our business.”

York continued, “It’s about starting to dismantle a system that has enormous costs for our society, including the loss of medically important antibiotics, the pollution of our air and water from animal waste, and horrible working conditions for humans in factory farms.”

In 2011, through Bon Appétit’s Farm to Fork Program, Bon Appétit reached their goal of contracting with 1,000 small farmers and food artisans, representing a 46 percent increase in the total number of small-scale independent vendors whom they work with company-wide.

Similarly, on Feb. 14, 2011, Valentine’s Day, the effectual company announced their Fair Trade Chocolate program; a partnership with Cordillera Fair Trade Certified™ chocolate made them the first food service company to support the use of Fair Trade baking chocolate company-wide.

It is apparent that “Bon Appétit not only talks the talk — but walks the walk,” according to Julie Severance, the General Manager of Bon Appétit at Lawrence. Severance expressed her excitement with the new changes when she revealed, “I was already very proud to work for Bon Appétit before the announcement, but when I read the press release I got goose bumps and thought, ‘Wow, this is very cool.'”

Most of the food currently served at Lawrence already comes from local food providers. Lawrence buys beef from Venneford Farm, pork from Riese Farm, yogurt from Sugar River Dairy farm and milk from Red Barn Family Farms. Furthermore, freshly grown fruit and vegetables from the Sustainable Lawrence University Garden regularly make appearances at Andrew Commons.

Assistant Professor of Government and Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs Jason Brozek, SLUG’s faculty advisor, believes that “between SLUG, the annual SISA conference, Bon Appétit’s policies and a host of other student efforts, our campus is a model for other institutions to look up to.”

Brozek continued, “This is absolutely a step in the right direction for Lawrence.” Junior SLUG member Hava Blair was delighted with Bon Appétit’schange, mainly because in her eyes, “good food is central to a fulfilling life.”