Friends of Humane Society International’s renowned Forward Food program was thrilled to collaborate with York University, training and empowering their chefs to expand their plant-based options.

On January 24 and 25, York University showcased its commitment to sustainability by hosting a plant-based culinary education session, in collaboration with Forward Food and Chartwells’ YU Eats. Launched in Canada in 2017 by Humane Society International/Canada and Friends of Humane Society International, Forward Food is a free program aimed at increasing the availability of plant-based options in the food service industry. By focusing on plant-based meals, the initiative supports campus food service programs in improving sustainability, health, reducing food costs, and enhancing animal welfare.

The session aligned with York University’s dedication to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly those focusing on responsible consumption and production. During the two-day event, twelve chefs from ten nearby universities and colleges created over 30 diverse plant-based dishes ranging from hearty tempeh Bolognese and mushroom pot pies to vibrant salads and decadent desserts like tiramisu and cherry chocolate pavlova. Workshops were also conducted on creative marketing strategies to make these dishes appealing to all diners.

Chef preparing black bean and seitan burgers

Chef preparing black bean and seitan burgers

The event culminated with the Forward Food Culinary Showcase where the chefs presented their creations to more than 70 attendees from the York University and Chartwells communities. The dishes, well-received for their taste and presentation, have since been incorporated into York University’s catering menu, with plans to include them in dining hall offerings.

Feedback from the participating chefs was overwhelmingly positive; they appreciated learning innovative recipes and were enthusiastic about the potential health and environmental benefits of incorporating plant-based items into their menus.

York University is proud to support the Forward Food pledge, further committing to enhance its menu offerings with more plant-based options as part of both York University and Chartwell’s ongoing sustainability journey. This initiative is a significant step towards reducing the university’s environmental impact and promoting a healthier diet among the community, serving approximately 150,000 meals each semester.

YorkU and Forward Food team members

YorkU and Forward Food team members

About York University Food Services

York University Food Services is dedicated to delivering a diverse and rotating menu that reflects the rich cultural diversity of the community. The mission is to foster a dynamic and inclusive dining experience that engages all members of the campus. The service prioritizes quality, nutrition, wellness, sustainability, authenticity, and affordability, striving to meet the needs of the entire community.

About Chartwells Canada

Chartwells Canada represents the educational sector of Compass Group Canada, delivering approximately 45 million meals annually to over 1.2 million students at post-secondary institutions nationwide. With a presence in higher education spanning over 20 years in Canada and more than 25 years globally, Chartwells specializes in retail, residence dining, and catering services. The company maintains over 50 partnerships with post-secondary institutions and employs roughly 7,900 associates. Renowned for its innovative approaches and education-specific technology, Chartwells offers a range of diverse culinary and beverage options, janitorial services, and is distinguished by the friendly professionalism of its team.

About Forward Food

Forward Food is an innovative culinary resource program that helps the foodservice industry – foodservice management companies, large-scale institutions such as universities and hospitals, restaurants, food distributors, and other operations – to put plants at the centre of the plate. The program offers culinary training, recipes, menu development support, guidance on marketing and communications, educational sessions, and greenhouse gas impact assessments to help foodservice professionals meet the increasing demand for delicious, accessible plant-based options. Forward Food provides services free of charge, and asks those they work with to sign the Forward Food pledge to make their menus or food purchasing at least 20% more plant-based.

Are you interested in bringing Forward Food to your university or other food service operation? Contact us here to learn more.