Sponsored by Energy Trust

Eating at work

| Print |  Email
Articles - February 2014
Thursday, January 23, 2014

BY LINDA BAKER

Bridgetown Natural Foods had been making a variety of natural and whole-grain products for several years when the owners, husband-and-wife team Dan Klock and Kelly Flatley Klock, realized many of the employees didn’t know how to use some of the core ingredients — oats, quinoa bran — in their own cooking. So this past spring, Bridgetown, based in Southeast Portland, launched an employee-wellness program aimed at incentivizing line workers to eat more nutritious meals. 

The focal point is a voluntary on-site cooking class held once a quarter. Participating employees are paid in “Bridgetown Dough,” tokens redeemable at the Lents International Farmers Market or a biweekly on-site farm stand with produce provided by local growers, including Bridgetown neighbor Zenger Farm.

“The underlying reason is to give employees healthier food,” Kelly says. “We’re a growing company,” she adds. “We need our employees to be healthy.”

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, about 20 line workers gathered in the manufacturer’s R&D room. There Bronwen Jones-Broderick, director of business development and a former personal chef, got things started with a quick PowerPoint offering a few frugal shopping tips: Buy pork shoulder on Sunday, then use leftovers to make posole, barbecue pork sandwiches and other meals for the rest of the week.

Next on the agenda was an overview of the menu and associated costs: A frittata cost $0.58 per serving; orange, almond and pomegranate salad, $0.60; and whole-wheat zucchini muffins, $0.23. Teams of employees then set to work whisking, chopping, stirring — and adding aesthetic touches, such as fashioning flowers out of green peppers and tomatoes. “I’m always blown away by the presentation,” Kelly says. 

0214 OFFICESPACE1
Bridgetown Natural Foods employees take part in an
on-site cooking class.

In addition to handing out tokens as compensation for the class, the company issues Bridgetown Dough for outstanding workplace performance. Collectively, the different elements of the program cost about $1,000 per month and will likely expand as the company continues to grow. “It’s going to have to take a new form,” Kelly says. But such is the beauty of being business owners. “We have such latitude to create new programs.” 

Since many employees are of Vietnamese, Russian and Hispanic descent, Bridgetown works with Zenger Farm to provide culturally appropriate vegetables, such as leeks and bok choy; workers are also encouraged to suggest native meals for the cooking class. To build community — working a factory line is isolating work — Bridgetown invites shift supervisors to attend the cooking sessions. 

 “We’re a family business, and this allows us all to get around the family table,” says Kelly, who also attends each class.

 A health and wellness initiative, Bridgetown Dough has a certain self-serving component: nurturing a new generation of consumers for Bridgetown products and other natural foods. But the program is also part of a larger trend linking healthy eating with employee well-being, recruitment and retention. Consider Chris King Precision Components, the Oregon bike parts manufacturer that recently hired Chris DiMinno, the former chef of acclaimed Portland restaurant Clyde Common, to run its company cafeteria and events programs.  

Says Kelly: “It’s all part of a larger corporate commitment to feeding employees well.”  

 

More Articles

Shuffling the Deck

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JON BELL

Oregon tribes still bet on casinos.


Read more...

The short list: 5 companies making a mint off kale

The Latest
Thursday, November 20, 2014
kale-thumbnailBY OB STAFF

Farmers, grocery stores and food processors cash in on kale.


Read more...

OB Poll: Wineries and groceries

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

24-winethumbA majority of respondents agreed: Local vineyards should remain Oregon-owned and quality is the most important factor when determining where to eat or buy groceries.


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...

Water World

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

Fred Ziari aims to feed the global population.


Read more...

Reimagining education to solve Oregon's student debt and underemployment problems

News
Thursday, November 13, 2014
carsonstudentdept-thumbBY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.


Read more...

The short list: 4 companies engaged in a battle of the paddles

The Latest
Thursday, December 04, 2014
pingpongthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Nothing says startup culture like a ping pong table in the office, lounge or lobby.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS