by Sally Braley | January 4, 2013

By Sarah J.F. Braley

Recently, while I was researching a story about green meetings, the people at Stonyfield Farm in Londonderry, N.H., sent over their green meetings and event guidelines, a pretty comprehensive document that touches on transportation, advertising, printed materials, packaging, decoration, recycling, reuse, waste, videoconferencing and more. Since Stonyfield makes organic milk, yogurts and other dairy products, the company has a vested interest in carrying its philosophy through all its interactions with the world (find information here).

Below are some of the details of Stonyfield's food and catering checklist, which meeting professionals can use to get a jump on changing how food is prepared and served at their events.

• Offer a healthy menu that includes vegetarian meals and organic, all-natural, local and seasonal food.
• Serve fair-trade coffee and tea with organic sugar and milk.
• Serve foods that need not be individually packaged or require utensils (e.g., fruits and vegetables, crackers and cheese).
• Serve bulk beverages, not individual containers.
• Water should be served in pitchers, not bottled, with reusable cups provided at the beginning of meetings.
• If any foods provided come from local farms or are organic, note it on cards on buffets indicating what the ingredients are, from which farm and where the farm is located.
• No individually wrapped condiments; use bowls and shakers for sugar, salt and pepper; milk and cream should be in their original cartons on ice or in a pitcher.
• Use reusable silverware, dishwater, cups and napkins; alternatively, use tableware made of biodegradable materials.

Stonyfield's planners also are provided with a form letter to send to their catering partners with these checklist items, as well as other directions for greening the F&B at the meeting, such as no plastic flatware, no styrofoam, placing small plates at buffets to reduce food waste and using sustainable centerpieces.

To reduce costs associated with service organic foods at small events, Stonyfield Farm has created the Green Meeting Pantry at its headquarters, storing organic and all-natural foods from like-minded companies. The items in the pantry have been donated to Stonyfield, but any organization with some storage space could set up a meetings "warehouse" for bulk event items. Stonyfield's pantry offers juice, tea, cereal, breakfast bars, salad dressing, condiments, granola, fruit snacks and more. To use the pantry items, planners are required to fill out a green-meeting request form: Their events have to be for 5-20 people; they have to arrange for reusable plates, utensils and cups; all food must be all-natural and/or organic; a vegetarian option must be provided; all materials have to be reused, washed and/or recycled after the meeting; all leftover food must be donated to the local soup kitchen (unopened pantry items go back to the pantry), and paper usage must be minimized at the meeting.

What other items would you put on your green meetings F&B checklist? Comment below or send me an email at [email protected].