As Michael Pollan recently said, “…the next chapter of the food movement will involve paying more attention to the workers in the food chain.” These workers, that put food on our tables, from field hands to food servers, are among lowest paid and least rewarded in our economy. But, from the growing recognition of the dangers of farm work to the recent protests against starvation wages, the struggles of food workers are becoming more visible. Sustainability leaders in the food industry already know that they are more successful when their workers have their needs met. Square Plate will help raise attention to the needs of food workers by counting the well being of workers on equal footing with the other dimensions of sustainability.
Restaurants can make significant contributions to a fair and sustainable economy by purchasing food from sustainable sources, offering nutritious food, and taking care of their workers. Running a restaurant is hard and consumers should have an easy and credible way to identify and promote restaurants that go above and beyond to make contributions to the community and to protect the environment. Square Plate, a partnership involving the San Francisco Department of Public Health, restaurant leaders, and sustainable food system proponents, has developed the first sustainability standard for restaurants that values community health, workers, and the environment. Square Plate’s goal is to be a nationally recognized standard for socially and environmentally responsible restaurants.