Food undoubtedly brings people together. Visitors to any of our Bloomberg offices around the globe are welcomed by our famous pantries. They are hubs not only for employees to grab a coffee or a snack, but also to mingle, to bump into other colleagues and exchange ideas.
As the meeting places for employees and visitors to our offices alike, our pantries embody many elements of our unique company culture – two key ones are philanthropy and sustainability. As a company, we are constantly trying to make strides and push boundaries when it comes to sustainability, whether it relates to our products or our operations. This mandate naturally extends to our pantries and the food we serve.
As the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted the way we work, our sustainable food initiatives have gone beyond our physical pantries. Many of our food & beverage vendors have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, so we’ve harnessed our culture of giving back to support these businesses, as well as those in need in our local communities.
Here is a snapshot of Bloomberg’s initiatives that enhance the sustainability of our pantries (such as food waste reduction) and strengthen our communities – whether that’s in-person in our offices, or virtually through programs that employees can benefit from at home.
Fill it Forward
Bloomberg launched the Fill it Forward program in January 2020 in an effort to encourage increased use of reusable cups and reduced waste. The initiative was open to employees in more than 40 offices around the world. Every time Bloomberg employees refill a reusable cup or bottle at home or in the office, they simply open the app and scan their Fill it Forward tag. With each scan, they support a donation to a clean water project. Employee response has been incredibly positive with colleagues collectively reusing their cups over 40,000 times in the first six weeks since launch alone. We made virtual access available in 2020, as most of us worked from home. By year end, we had reached nearly 60,000 reuses. As a result of this participation, Bloomberg proudly funded a clean water Piped System Tap Stands project in the Gicumbi District of Rwanda, with Fill it Forward and charity: water.
Cool Food Pledge
At the end of 2019, Bloomberg committed to serving more climate-friendly foods in its catering operations and cafeterias in New York and New Jersey by signing the Cool Food Pledge. In 2020, we expanded the pledge to include our European headquarters in London.
The pledge is part of a growing movement to reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2030. In 2019, Bloomberg purchased 1,071 tonnes of food combined for its New York, New Jersey and London operations, of which 3% were ruminant meats (beef and lamb), and another 75% other animal-based foods. Total food-related GHG emissions amounted to 18,449 tonnes CO2e, with ruminant meats accounting for 41% of these. We worked with the Cool Food team at the World Resources Institute (WRI) to develop our baseline emissions profile for our U.S. and London operations. This analysis offers a clear sense of where we are and the progress we are working towards once we resume significant food service operations as more of our employees return to the office.
Going forward, we will incorporate more plant-based ingredients and make other menu changes to promote sustainable food options to our employees, while helping us further reduce our environmental impact.
In January 2021, over 200 Bloomberg employees signed up for the Veganuary Workplace Challenge and pledged to go vegan for 31 days. Participants received practical resources to make the transition to a plant-based diet, including recipes, meal plans from Veganuary, and support from their peers in a dedicated online chat. We ensured that there were plenty of vegan and also vegetarian options available in our pantries across the globe for those participating in the challenge and visiting our offices throughout January. The campaign allowed us to raise awareness of the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet that our employees can integrate into their lives, whether at home or in the office.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to rethink how to make food available to employees that would continue to come into our offices. Packaging had to take extra health precautions into account. Instead of served dinners at our New York offices, meals were prepared for grab and go. With this change in mind, we joined forces with Copia, an organization that assists us in donating excess food and preventing it from going to waste. From July to December 2020, we donated 3,668 pounds of food to local NGO partners like the Bowery Mission and NYC Rescue Mission through this new program.
Addressing food insecurity in our local communities
Philanthropy and giving back are core to our company culture. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Bloomberg partnered with our foods service providers Sodexo and Compass to help local businesses, food banks, hospitals and communities in need. Throughout 2020, we distributed almost 2.5 million meals through a combination of grants, Bloomberg-matched employee giving programs, and community-supported agriculture programs, all while employees worked from home.