How the NatureFresh Farms Lunch Program Started
NatureFresh Farms started its lunch program at the beginning of 2014. What began as a way to create new and exciting recipes using their own products, turned into something much bigger!
NatureFresh Farms wanted to go beyond the idea that ‘there is only so much you can do with Tomatoes, Peppers, and Cucumbers’, and show consumers all the things that they can create with their produce. A chef was brought on to the team and the recipe exploration began! But how did something as simple as recipe development turn into the massive lunch program that NatureFresh Farms uses today?
The Greenhouse Education Center (GEC) Nutrition Educators sat down with two of the important faces behind the lunch program, NatureFresh Farms President Peter Quiring and Chef Zach Lightfoot, to get more answers about the development of this program.
What is the NatureFresh Farms Lunch Program?
Once the test kitchen and a chef were incorporated into the company, NatureFresh Farms began to ask: What more can we do with this set-up to benefit our employees? As our President Peter Quiring explained, “if we have the opportunity, why not make it big?”.
And so it began.
The lunch program was developed to provide employees with tasty, healthy, high-quality, and affordable meals featuring a variety of NatureFresh Farms products. By incorporating our products, we could showcase the amazing versatility of them and show everyone how to incorporate them into traditional and tasty recipes.
How Does the Lunch Program Work?
Employees are emailed the menu for the upcoming week and are then given the choice to place orders. Each week, the chef and his team work hard to develop a variety of fresh menu options from various cultures that also take into account different palates and diets. Orders are gathered and meal prep for each day is planned accordingly. Some daily tasks in the kitchen include: washing, cutting, cooking, and even daily trips to the farms to gather fresh produce.
“A huge factor is timing,” Chef Zach Lightfoot explains. Fresh produce is chosen and most of the cooking preparation is done the day of. The kitchen team of three work together to ensure that meals are fresh and ready for the employees to enjoy once lunchtime rolls around.
By using the lunch program, everyone has a fair chance of getting a good meal that is affordable, high quality, healthy, convenient and of course, tasty!
The Mind Behind It All
An Interview With Our Owner & President: Peter Quiring
Q1: Why do you believe it is important for NatureFresh Farms to have a Lunch Program?
“It is so important for everyone to have access to good, tasty, healthy, and nutritious meals. The lunch program was designed to help our employees have easier access to these types of lunches. With the convenience factor of the lunch program, it allows our employees to have more free time to spend at home with their families, rather than putting this time towards meal prepping and shopping for food. Meal time in the lunch room also allows our employees to spend more time together building relationships and establishing a better company morale. The lunch program just made sense, as it fell in line with our company values and what we normally do. We not only value the physical health of our employees through nutrition, but their mental health too. Eating together has shown to be so important for both of these things.”
To check out some of the benefits of eating together, check out the President’s Choice® #EatTogether Day blog!
Q2: What is one of your favorite meals from the Lunch Program?
I don’t think I can choose one specific meal. The thing that I love most about the lunch program is the variety! The creativity I see coming out of the kitchen is so amazing, I simply cannot choose one dish! I feel so blessed to have such a variety of tasty and healthy meals everyday!
Q3: Do you have any tips on how to incorporate healthy eating into a busy lifestyle?
Our website provides lots of easy, delicious, and nutritious recipes to explore at home. Some of these recipes have minimal ingredients which is helpful when there is a need to create quick meals in a time crunch. Check it out – there are recipes for everyone on there – even for beginners like me HA!
The Chef Behind It All
An Introduction to An Important Face in the Kitchen
Q1: How do you incorporate healthy eating into the NatureFresh Farms Lunch Program?
Well to make it easy, we always use our fresh produce – whether it’s in the entree of the day or in the daily salad options. We like to offer a variety of choices so our employees can choose different healthy meals that suit their needs. In the kitchen, I also try to create most things from scratch, such as always creating my own salad dressings, to showcase our products and overall just try to incorporate as much fresh food as possible.
Q2: How have the employees responded to the NatureFresh Farms Lunch Program?
Overall the employees have responded with a lot of positive feedback. I often get a lot of emails asking “What was in that meal?” or “Can I get the recipe for __?”. It is a feel-good moment when your cooking inspires others to try and recreate some of these healthy recipes in their own homes.
Q3: What is your favorite part about your role with the Lunch Program?
As a Chef, one thing I love is the variety that this job brings. No two days are the same here! I continually get to try new recipes in the test kitchen and apply new tastes to a wide variety of palates using our products. And the best part? Knowing that my job is allowing everyone here to be sent back to work with a full stomach so that they are always able to achieve their best.
Q4: Do you have any chef’s tips to give to the public on healthy eating?
My biggest tip would be to try and eat fresh and buy in season whenever possible! Try using local fresh ingredients to create high quality meals. If store-bought products are needed, always try to go for options with minimal ingredients to create a healthy dish. I always believe the simpler, the better!
The Impact of the Lunch Program
Both Peter and Zach agree, the NatureFresh Farms Lunch Program has been a HUGE success. Since the program’s beginning in 2014, the number of orders has grown about three times the size! As well, there are many employees who have been continually ordering since the start of the lunch program!
Not only does this program help ensure employees are getting good quality, nutritious meals, but it also allows them to build better relationships with co-workers and have more free time after work!
It truly is a unique opportunity that not many other companies have!
That is it for now, GEC Nutrition Educators over and out!