Sponsored by Oregon Business

Eating at work

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


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. 

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

The Cover Story

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 27, 2015
01-cover-0915-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

How do you put a baby on the cover of a business magazine without it looking too cutesy?


Mayoral musings

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
091515-mayors-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be the year of the outsider, with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump capturing leads in the polls and the headlines. In Portland, Wheeler vs. Hales is bucking the outlier trend.


The God complex

Linda Baker
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
093015-zydellren-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

The media coverage about Pope Francis must have put me in a Biblical frame of mind. Because after touring the latest phase of the South Waterfront development, a mind boggling 1.5 million square feet of office and retail space that will spring up north of the aerial tram over the next few years, I couldn’t stop thinking about the massive project as a modern day creation story.


Getting What You Pay For

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A conversation with Chris Maples, president of the Oregon Institute of Technology.


The List: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Oregon Business magazine’s seventh annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For project attracted more than 150 nonprofits from around the state from a variety of sectors, including social services and environmental advocacy.  More than 5,000 employees and volunteers filled out the survey, rating their satisfaction with work environment, mission and goals, career development and learning, benefits and compensation, and management and communications.


Cream of the Crop

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Bill Levy of Pacific Ag talked to Oregon Business about new residue markets, the company’s growth strategy and why a biofuel plant is like a large cow.


Video: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015

The Latest
Monday, October 05, 2015
100-best-NP-logo-2015-video-thumbVIDEO BY JESSE LARSON

Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02