Harvest Cafe

Harvest Cafe

3. Good Health and Well-Being 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

The business innovation behind Harvest Cafe which is located on Cook Campus is its service of providing sustainable food choices to college students while also using compostable plates, bowls, and utensils. Most of the material is crafted out of bamboo including scenery and decorations of the building. The main goal was to stop millennials from complaining about not having sustainable food choices regarding collegiate dining.

Authors

amani syed

amani syed

Leon Dass

Leon Dass

Caroline Hurley

Caroline Hurley

Neel Patel

Neel Patel

Mansoor Khan

Mansoor Khan

School

Rutgers Business School

Rutgers Business School

Professor

Kenneth Welch

Kenneth Welch

Innovation

Harvest Cafe’s service looks to promote good digestive health while also moving towards plant-focused foods. They prepare food with "from scratch" culinary methods that create flavor without any added-substances including chemicals, sugars, and counterfeit enhancers that are found in most prepared foods.

The menu’s concept is "Eat well, live well,” making it one of the few places on campus that are focused on the well-being of the students and their diets. Harvest Dining provides minimally processed food with limited additives, chemicals, sugars, and artificial enhancers that are found in most foods today. The meats and seafood used are hormone and antibiotic-free. Overall, Harvest Dining features house-made whole grains, a diverse salad and fruit bar, a noodle bowl station, clean made-from-scratch soups, juice and smoothie bar, brick-oven pizzettes and flatbreads, and even more vegan/vegetarian options. It is truly a healthier alternative to all the fast food that is found on campus and takes meal swipes, which makes it easily accessible to students. The organization behind Harvest Dining is The New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health (IFNH).

Harvest Dining looks towards supporting local businesses while shying away from engaging with those that work with processed foods. Harvest also looks to combat the growing population of young adults with type two diabetes and reduce the number of obese people in NJ, while promoting proper digestive health to everyone on campus. The cafe also sends food to Neilson Dining hall at Busch campus, so that students can have a healthy alternative when they are getting take-out food from the dining halls. One of the main benefits of their innovation is that students may use their meal swipes--a dream come true!

Harvest Cafe

Inspiration

Harvest Cafe came to fruition because of the collaboration of the following individuals: Joe Charette (Director of Rutgers Dining Services), Peggy Policastro (Nutritionist, Ph.D.), Nicholas Emmanuel, and Ian Keith (Head Chef and Manager of Harvest Cafe). These four decided on creating a sustainable and healthy dining hall for the students of Rutgers University by making meals plant-based. Head Chef and Manager Ian Keith visited lecture halls and spoke about the idea to students. Hence, the Institute for Food and Nutritional Health evolved and secured funding for Harvest Cafe. The motivation behind the innovation was the desire to combat Type II Diabetes in young adults in hopes of reducing the amount of obesity in the state of New Jersey. Ian Keith describes his intent to change collegiate dining in an interview by “sharpening the minds of students and allowing them to live a healthy lifestyle.”

Harvest started their restaurant by trying to reduce the number of obese people in New Jersey. According to IFNH, 16% of 2-4 year-olds in New Jersey are already obese. The company also set out to create a healthy food alternative to students and faculty at Rutgers New Brunswick campus, so that they are not constantly eating fast food. They took their mission even further and sustainably sourced their ingredients from local farms. From there, they continue to push the envelope in being a sustainable restaurant by using only compostable materials for utensils, using all their waste to create soil, and using recyclable bamboo to create the scenery and layout of Harvest. Ian Keith noticed that collegiate dining was in dire need of being changed. Ian Keith prides himself on being one of the first to take the initiative and make dining halls healthier and more environmentally friendly.

Overall impact

To quote Chef Ian Keith on what inspired him on providing the service that Harvest Cafe specializes in, “Collegiate dining needed to be revamped.” The innovation helps students build healthier palates which directly relates to the sense of mission of Harvest Cafe. Students feel rewarded when choosing nutritional meals while they are living on campus. Most of the material is crafted out of bamboo including scenery and decorations of the building. The innovation emerged from a generous 10-million dollar grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2015 to aid Rutgers University in developing food nutrition and health studies.

Chef Keith said that Harvest Cafe, as a plant-centric dining service, is a first-of-its-kind initiative around the country and is part of a collaborative of 38 universities and colleges where the cafe is showcased as a model to promote plant-based food dining. To gain the support of Rutgers students and generate interest in the idea of a healthy dining option on campus, Harvest Cafe turned to social media to spread the message. Also, Head Chef and Manager Ian Keith visited lecture halls and spoke about the idea to students. The team at Harvest Cafe also worked with student sustainable farms on campus to gather support for the initiative. Hence, the Institute for Food and Nutritional Health evolved and secured funding for Harvest Cafe. The positive environment directly attracts customers which is great for business because it spreads Harvest Cafe through word of mouth.

Business benefit

The innovation of Harvest Cafe was linked to the 3rd UN Sustainable Development Goal by ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being of all ages and the 12th UN Sustainable Development Goal by ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns while also attempting to integrate healthy diets into lifestyles. Harvest Cafe’s service looks to promote good digestive health while also moving towards plant-focused foods. They prepare food with "from scratch" culinary methods that create flavor without any added-substances including chemicals, sugars, and counterfeit enhancers that are found in most prepared foods.

Harvest is looking to expand its healthy collegiate dining all across Rutgers, by opening a juice bar in the Busch student center, running a taco truck that will go around Rutgers campus, along with bringing Harvest meals to different dining halls

Also, the credit goes to their management behind providing healthy food. Their staff is required to keep gloves and hairnets on while they serve food or cook. The friendly staff of Harvest Cafe is very hardworking and always makes sure to keep everything clean. Their staff has a very professional relationship amongst each other which is what motivates them to come to work every day wholeheartedly. The positive environment directly attracts customers which is great for business because it spreads Harvest Cafe through word of mouth. Ian Keith stated that “the staff at Harvest has been able to eat healthily and Harvest has become a lifestyle not just a place to eat.”

Chef Keith states that by working at Harvest Cafe, the employees have become more aware and gained knowledge about the benefits of eating healthy. He says it has made his employees change their lifestyles at home and have prompted them to spread the message of healthy living in their communities. Making Harvest a part of their lifestyle has helped them to increase their employee engagement as workers feel that are all contributing to something greater than themselves and are a large family.

Social and environmental benefit

Harvest Cafe has helped many entrepreneurial agriculture graduate students by providing them with a complete and outright view of the business practices involved in selling products, buying, and sourcing materials in the agricultural world. This will be the fourth year of business filled with a loyal following of students. Ian Keith says, "each day Harvest serves over 1,000 students choosing to eat a healthy meal, and 62% of the business is from meal swipeable options." In addition to the effect on the student population, Harvest attempts to help conserve the environment’s resources by recycling, reusing, and reducing their waste. Harvest composts over 400 pounds of vegetable waste per day. All of this is turned into a compost tea with the help of aerobic digester for the use of fertilizer. Harvest is currently creating a system to trade this fertilizer to the Rutgers Agricultural Services.

The cafe has also been included in a campaign called “Menus of Change.” Ian Keith stated in an interview that this is “collaborative research run by Stanford University and the Culinary Institute of America to change collegiate dining options and Harvest has been one of the first products of this campaign.” Keith noticed that the quality and healthy options in collegiate dining have been declining throughout the years and have tried to change it. This project has dozens of universities on board and the goal is to test materials for future dining utensils and find ways to limit the environmental footprint. One example is the compostable paper straws that are given with the purchase of a drink. Harvest Cafe has tried to save the environment as much as they could have, but due to having thousands of students as consumers per day, they can’t save that many plates, straws, and other plastics as they would have hoped to. However, Harvest has taken other steps beyond having sustainably sourced utensils. All their decorations and their sceneries are recycled from different materials and through the use of bamboo.

Interview

Ian Keith, Manager

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Harvest Cafe

Harvest Cafe

New Brunswick, New Jersey, US

Business Website: https://ifnh.rutgers.edu/harvest.html

Year Founded: 2015

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Harvest Dining provides minimally processed food with limited additives, chemicals, sugars, and artificial enhancers that are found in most foods today. The meats and seafood used are hormone and antibiotic-free. Overall, Harvest Dining features house-made whole grains, a diverse salad and fruit bar, a noodle bowl station, clean made-from-scratch soups, juice and smoothie bar, brick-oven pizzettes and flatbreads, and even more vegan/vegetarian options. It is truly a healthier alternative to all the fast food that is found on campus and takes meal swipes, which makes it easily accessible to students. The organization behind Harvest Dining is The New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health (IFNH).