This Nonprofit is Helping Restaurants Become More Sustainable

by Gabrielle Khalife
Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Name: Sustainable Restaurant Corps

What they do: The Sustainable Restaurant Corps (SRC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping restaurants in the five boroughs of New York City reduce their environmental footprint and save money in the process. SRC believes that sustainability is good for business. The organization works to help restaurants reduce utility costs, decrease food waste, source affordable, sustainable food and disposable products, and cut indoor air pollution with green chemicals.

How they do it: In 2013, SRC launched their Restaurant Sustainability Survey, which was designed to help NYC restaurants reduce food, water and energy waste. Founder of the nonprofit, Christine Black, says that the survey will provide a better understanding of what restaurants may or may not be doing, helps gauge what challenges each restaurant faces and determines how to tailor the nonprofit’s services restaurant-by-restaurant. SRC understands that the highest level of sustainability standards may not be achievable in all restaurants but there is always something to improve – whether it’s switching to smaller portions or using paper straws instead of plastic, these small changes can have a large impact on the environment. The survey has been sent to more than 500 restaurants in NYC. With the data, SRC plans to develop a Sustainability Rating System similar to Restaurant Health Grades that will help consumers find green restaurants. The rating system will also serve as an incentive for restaurants to become “greener” in order to satisfy the increasing consumer demand for more sustainable food and practices. In fact, according to SRC, 78 percent of customers say they prefer a green restaurant.

Mission: To give NYC restaurants the information and tools they need to operate sustainably.

Latest project/campaign: SRC is currently working on partnering with restaurants to offer more sustainable, biodegradable alternatives (e.g. paper straws to replace plastic straws). In the future, SRC hopes to connect with a foundation or government agency to expand its funding, connections and impact. 

Major Funding: Anonymous donors

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: $500 (Work currently done mostly via website)

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect the food system: SRC is interested in using data to highlight what any given restaurant can do to make a positive impact on the environment. They have developed a spreadsheet with quantitative data on greenhouse emissions from restaurants that will help them create guidelines for determining how sustainable restaurants in every city should be evaluated.

FACT SHEET:

Location:

388 Atlantic Ave

Brooklyn, NY 11217

Core Programs:

-Surveying and partnering with restaurants to promote sustainable practices

-Educating consumers about sustainability via social media

Number of staff: 1

Number of volunteers: 0-10

Areas served: Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens

Year Started: 2012

Director: Christine Black

Contact Information: [email protected]

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