At Horizon House we pride ourselves on our commitment to sustainability throughout our operations—and the Dining Services department demonstrates that at every meal, every day. Our kitchens and dining rooms are at the forefront of the local and organic food movement, environmentally sensitive food sourcing, recycling, and composting. Residents and staff work hand-in-hand to provide meals that are good, good for you, and good for the planet.
The Horizon House Choice Dining Program, as the name implies, recognizes the importance of providing variety—in dining venues, in the flexible use of monthly dining credits, and in the food we offer. Especially when residents are dining in regularly, a menu that changes daily, weekly, and seasonally is key to enjoyment. We also take every opportunity to celebrate the holidays and world cuisines, from roast turkey and all the trimmings to Indian curries or ancient grains like quinoa. Equally important in the realm of choice are options for vegetarian, heart-healthy, or gluten-free dining. Our menus provide detailed information on calories, protein, carbohydrates, fats, and sodium for each item, which makes it easy for everyone to be a more informed diner.
Underlying all these choices is Horizon House’s commitment to sourcing the freshest ingredients, local and organic whenever possible, harvested in the most sustainable ways.
• One of our major vendors, Charlie’s Produce is a local company, providing great local (often organic) produce to the Northwest and West Coast since 1978. They also offer “Imperfectly Delicious Produce” to communities like Horizon House who recognize that beauty, when it comes to fruit and vegetables, is more than skin deep! So a strawberry is slightly “white-shouldered” rather than 100% red. It still tastes great in a salad or a smoothie. When you think that 40% of the edible food in the United States, both pre- and post-consumer, goes to waste, harvesting the less than perfect is an important way to reduce that waste, and all the resources contributing to harvest and disposal.
• Liberty Dairy, a 90-year-old local family business, is another Horizon House vendor, supplying hormone-free dairy products and cage-free, humanely raised pasteurized eggs.
• Our seafood menu offerings follow the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s guidelines on sustainable choices for healthy oceans, like skipjack versus albacore tuna, which are caught without fish aggregating devices.
• InHarvest offers Horizon House diners nutritious and sustainably farmed artisan grains, from brown rice to quinoa to farro.
• Roasted chicken breast is a perennial menu favorite and our source is InterBay Meats, providing all natural, Washington-raised chicken.
• We used to purchase prepared salads and sandwiches for our Bistro, but recently we’ve gone one better, and now we make our own fresh “grab and go” specials.
• Don’t forget dessert! Our Hampton Creek baked goods are made with green pea protein instead of eggs, which is great for people on low-calorie diets or with egg allergies, and easier on the environment, too.
Recycling & Composting
All of our disposable serve ware at Horizon House: cups, cup lids, food containers, knives, forks, and spoons, are compostable. Those few non-compostable service items we need for salads and sandwiches are re-useable and recyclable. Our garbage disposals have given way to food waste composting. In 2015, we composted thousands of pounds, according to our partner Cedar Grove. It’s gratifying to be part of a virtuous circle in which our food waste is composted and that same compost goes right back into resident gardens. For several years, Horizon House has supported Food Lifeline and the Millionaire Club by packaging and freezing leftovers that can be used by local food banks and shelters. We donated more than 1,900 pounds of edible food in 2015.
As 2016 dawns, Horizon House is looking at even more and better ways to improve sustainability and our food choices. We’re planning menus in line with the “Menus of Change” program outlined by the Culinary Institute of America and Harvard School of Public Health, which focus on whole grains and decreasing animal proteins. In those more vegetable-centric dishes, we’ll use healthier cooking methods like braising and roasting. And behind the scenes, we’ll streamline our labor and procedures to be more efficient and allow for more in-house production, which delivers fresher, tastier food. We’re committed to delicious and nutritious—and to the notion that serving healthy food will help create a healthier environment.