Robert “Bob” Lubecky always knew that he wanted to work with food. From working as a busboy to a chef after attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, to now serving as the General Manager for Dining Services at Santa Clara University (SCU), Lubecky maintains that you “never stop learning” when it comes to food.
With his background as a chef, Lubecky is proud that all of the major meals served at SCU are cooked from scratch, making it easy to customize for certain diets. “You can feel good about what you’re eating here,” he exclaims, so much so that even he can’t pick a favorite dish. “We [really] are a food company,” he emphasizes.
Lubecky began working for Bon Appétit Management Company (BAMCO), SCU’s dining services provider, five years ago after three seasons as a culinary arts teacher. In his classroom preparation as a teacher, Lubecky came across BAMCO and was impressed by the company’s Farm to Fork program, which, he explains, aligns with his personal beliefs that the food service industry should build partnerships and help boost local economies.
Creating a More Sustainable Dining Experience at SCU
While at SCU, under the Farm to Fork initiative, Lubecky has worked to support local, community-based producers like Oya Organics in Hollister, CA. With SCU as a client buying 2,000 pounds of produce per week each fall, Oya Organics has been able to scale up to 14 acres, and is now using Lubecky and SCU’s support to hopefully extend growing time in the winter.
Bon Appétit also has several other sustainability initiatives in place, including the Low Carbon Diet program, which made BAMCO the first food service company to accept responsibility for the connection between food and climate change. With this kind of forward-thinking in mind, all seafood served at SCU under BAMCO policy is rated “green” or “yellow” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. “We want to make sure that years from now, future generations can still eat tuna,” Lubecky explains. “[And] making good decisions for the future,” he adds, “that’s what sustainability is all about.”
Notably, BAMCO sustainability policy focuses most of all on animal welfare. For starters, all milk and yogurt served is hormone-free, and all ground beef is certified humane. In addition, BAMCO does not serve foie gras (livers of force-fed ducks) or veal from calves confined in crates. By 2015, all eggs (shell and liquid) will be cage-free and 25 percent of all beef, pork, and poultry will be from certified humane sources. Further, all pork served will be produced without gestation crate confinement systems.
Changing the Way the Food Industry Works
Even though BAMCO is just one company in the giant food industry, it is "making a big difference in changing the way the industry works," Lubecky states, through these types of sustainability policies. Serving as an example for its twelve sister companies under Compass, BAMCO inspired a company-wide policy change to serve only cage-free shell eggs.
In another example, BAMCO’s new humane pork policy and Compass’ buying power is forcing large pork producers like Johnsonville to change their practices. And how will BAMCO’s competitors respond? “Let them join!” Lubecky says. He also notes, however, that more consumer education about how food is produced is needed “because that is how change is going to happen.”
Upholding Sustainability Values at Home
Lubecky not only tries to uphold sustainability values at work, but also at home with his family as well. He enjoys going to farmers’ markets, and always looks for hormone-free dairy products and humanely-raised chicken. Although he recognizes that good food is not always cheap, he does what he can to ensure his own children will have a healthy and sustainable future.
Watch BAMCO's "Story of Sustainability" and SCU Dining Services' video.
For more information about BAMCO's sustainable food service policies, read here.
By Amelia Evans '13, Sustainability Intern.