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Hyatt uses food as a route to sustainability

Hyatt Hotels Corp., which serves nearly 24 million meals annually in its worldwide properties, is seeking a leadership role in the health and wellness arena within the hospitality industry, evidenced by its new global initiative: "Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served."

The program, announced in early May, is the second part of a companywide three-pillar program that has been evolving over the last several years, and encompasses a commitment to providing “food and beverages that are good for our people, our planet, and our communities,” says Susan Santiago, vice president of food and beverage, North America operations, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts.

The first pillar, focused on healthy people, aims for portion control and natural ingredients, with food prep centered on methods that preserve nutrients. Examples include gluten-free and vegetarian options, organic produce, natural meat without supplemental growth hormones or antibiotics, reduced sodium, reduced additives, beverages with all natural sweeteners such as agave nectar, hormone-free milk, and real fruit juice.

Hyatt implemented the first steps of this new approach in 2011 by switching to cage-free eggs and Meyer’s all natural beef throughout its North American properties, reportedly the first large hotel organization to take this step.

The second pillar’s focus of a healthy planet engages sustainable practices for sourcing ingredients, such as naturally raised beef and pork and planting chef’s gardens on hotel properties. Recycling programs and new to-go containers and packaging are also a part of the program.

The final pillar looks to support healthy communities by sourcing from local suppliers as well as actively supporting farmers’ markets and other community events.

A major part of Hyatt’s push is its support of local communities through education, fundraising and volunteer efforts, all centered on health and wellness. Recent efforts have involved the organization of farmers’ markets near Hyatt hotels to support local communities access to healthy foods, as well as the installation of two honeybee hives on the Hyatt Regency Jersey City’s 5th floor rooftop suite. The hives—and the Hyatt—are part of a  New Jersey statewide agricultural initiative to increase pollination.

For chefs, the initiative allows them to express their creativity, using local and seasonal ingredients and reflecting regional preferences, instead of having to follow mandated menus uniform throughout the hotel family.

To highlight the new program, Grand Hyatt New York’s executive chef Christian Ragona prepared a lunch that included Roasted Green and White Asparagus with Morels, Prosciutto Cotto, Quail Egg, and Parmesan, and Grilled Atlantic Cobia with Red Ribbon Sorrel, Artichokes, and Long Island Mussels Barigoule.

"Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served" is an outgrowth of Hyatt’s global corporate responsibility platform, Hyatt Thrive, unveiled last year.  Thrive focuses on four pillars Hyatt says are critical for communities: Environmental Sustainability; Economic Development and Investment; Education and Personal Advancement and Health and Wellness.

“Hyatt Thrive is designed to help make our communities places where our associates are proud to work, where guests want to visit, where neighbors want to live, and hotel owners want to invest,” says Santiago. “This global platform unites Hyatt's commitment to responsible business practices with a single vision and a common focus, allowing our efforts around the world to add up to make a big global impact.”  

As part of its new global undertaking, Hyatt made a commitment to Partnership for Healthier America, which will hold the hotel accountable for continuously improving the nutritional profile of food menus at its full-service managed properties across the U.S. for the next 10 years.

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