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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

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Food Purchasing Guidelines for City Staff who host meetings

Food purchasing guidelines for meetings were created with input from staff in multiple bureaus. They make it easy to buy great tasting, nutritious food for any type of event. In doing so you will support local businesses, champion climate change and provide healthful and sustainable food for City meetings and events. You will also be adhering to City sustainable purchasing policy and the Climate Action Plan.

image of food guidlines

Guidelines
Ask your caterer to:

Food

  • Offer vegetables, fruit, and whole grains and avoid processed foods, especially foods with added salt, sugars, and fats.
  • Prioritize vegetarian and vegan options to minimize meat and dairy offerings.
  • Include locally grown, seasonal, and organic ingredients when possible.
  • Serve portion sizes that minimize food waste. For example, cut fruits, vegetables and desserts into bite sized pieces.
  • Offer culturally-appropriate food.

Beverages

  • Provide tap water in pitchers, never bottled. Purchase beverages without added sugar.
  • Provide coffee and tea from vendors who use reusable carafes and sustainably-grown products.

Set-up and clean-up

  • Use durable dishware or dishware made with recycled content.
  • Provide containers for compost.
  • Have food delivered by bike or electric vehicle.

When in doubt, remember that goal is to choose food that is healthy for people and the planet, with less packaging and food waste.

How it Works
Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the guidelines.
Step 2: Review the preferred vendor list and select the vendor that meets your needs.
Step 3: Place your order. That’s it!

The program is voluntary, but city employees are strongly encouraged to buy food from a preferred list of vendors who demonstrate a commitment to the guidelines. Businesses on the list have been certified by the City of Portland Sustainability at Work(SAW) program and are committed to working with employees to provide sustainable and healthful meals. The preferred-provider vendor list provides all the logistical details you need to place food orders.    

More about Preferred Vendors
When creating the preferred-provider vendor list, BPS staff worked with vendors so they can help you choose food that is healthy for people and the planet, with less packaging and food waste. They are committed to providing delicious food at reasonable prices.

Have a favorite caterer that’s not on the preferred provider list? Additional grocery stores, catering companies, and restaurants are welcome. The SAW team can work with the business to get it certified and on the list. Contact sustainabilityatwork@portlandoregon.gov.  An ideal preferred-provider vendor list would reflect the diversity of our city and is a priority to create. The City is actively seeking emerging businesses and those owned by woman and entrepreneurs of color.

Why Guidelines?

  • The City’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) calls for food purchasing guidelines that promote plant-based diets and healthy, minimally processed foods for public meetings, events, and facilities. Many people do not realize that livestock production alone is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the combined tailpipe discharges from every plane, train, car, bus, and boat in the world.
  • Purchasing from local companies keeps taxpayer dollars within our community and supports the local economy. 
  • Our food choices can encourage personal health and community well-being for the public and fellow employees when we provide healthy food choices at City-sponsored events.

Food purchasing guidelines help the City promote personal, environmental, and financial health and well-being.

Questions?
Please contact the Sustainable City Government program at greenteam@portlandoregon.gov.