There are definite perks to this particular career. One is being asked to sample Chipotle’s offerings and get a behind-the-scenes tour. I recently met with Ben Neis of Chipotle to learn about its community efforts. He is a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable spokesman for the company, and passionate about Chipotle’s dedication to sourcing fresh, sustainable ingredients through its Food With Integrity mission.
This summer, Chipotle expanded its local produce program and committed to purchasing at least 35 percent of at least one bulk produce item in all of its restaurants from local farmers when it is seasonally available. Other components of Chipotle’s Food With Integrity vision include serving dairy products free of rBGH, a synthetic hormone used to stimulate milk production in cattle, as well as sourcing local produce and organic beans, when available. And it tries hard to use only naturally raised meat, whereby animals are raised in a humane way, never given antibiotics or added hormones, and fed a pure vegetarian diet. Currently, Chipotle serves all naturally raised chicken and pork in its more than its 860 restaurants nationwide. Approximately 60 percent of the beef Chipotle serves nationwide is naturally raised, including all of the beef available in its Kansas City restaurants. Chipotle continues to support local farms through a variety of initiatives, including local fundraisers.
On Sunday, from 5:00-8:00 P.M., the Chipotle location in the Power and Light District (14th and Walnut) is hosting a fundraiser in support of the Kansas City Community Gardens, a local not-for-profit organization that provides self-help and educational assistance to low-income adults, children and community groups in the metropolitan area to grow their own food from garden plots located in backyards, vacant lots, school yards and at community sites. The Food With Integrity program aligns beautifully with KCCG’s mission, so Chipotle will donate 50% of the proceeds generated during the fundraiser to the organization.
It’s refreshing to see a publicly-held company as concerned about the health of its consumers as it is about the bottom line. Ironically, Ben told me that when Chipotle spent more money to provide higher quality products, profits increased. It would be nice if some of the other big players on the restaurant scene would follow this model.
Go buy a burrito on Sunday–you’ll be supporting a fine not-for-profit organization AND a company with a conscience.