Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Food for Thought

By Melissa Jurcan

Northwest Meetings + Events editorial advisory board member Melissa Jurcan is our guest blogger. She offers a recap of the 7th Annual Solutions5 conference held on Friday, Jan. 20.

Microsoft recently hosted and produced Solutions5, the 7th annual collaborative conference bringing together five premier foodservice associations: Association of Correctional Food Service Affiliation, the Association for Healthcare Foodservice, Foodservice Consultants Society International, National Association of College Auxiliary Services and the Society for Hospitality & Foodservice Management. The event was held at the Microsoft Conference Center.

More than 270 attendees participated in the daylong workshop where they explored the next generation of food as it relates to trends, technology, wellness, food waste and feeding the world. The Microsoft culinary and events team spent several months crafting the menu and experience to highlight the educational session topics and align them with food, preparation techniques, waste reduction efforts and décor. For example: Prior to lunch, conference-goers heard from Dr. Irana Hawkins of Walden University, who lectured on “Wellness—A Greener Plate for a Greener Planet.” Following her presentation, guests dined in an Apothecary lunch experience where each menu item was carefully thought out and matched to a health benefit: from vision, to brain, gut health to energy, antioxidants to plant forward.

The conference culminated with a reception displaying the theme of the day “Food: The Next Generation” and featured menu items along the “feed the world” concept, including vertical buffets and hydroponic towers.

Speakers and topics featured at the conference were:

Session One:
Shifting Generations, Shifting Foods

Jack Li, Datassential

Session Two:
Technosystems: New Dots, New Connections

Rob Grimes, Founder & CEO IFBTA (International Food & Beverage Technology Association) & ConStrata Tech Consulting)

Session Three:
Wellness – Greener Plate for a Greener Planet

Dr. Irana Hawkins, Walden University

Session Four:
Waste Not, Want Not – The Future of Food

Moderator: Barbara Kane, EcoLab Inc.

James Ehrlich, CEO – ReGen Villages
Janet Haugan, Director of Marketing – LeanPath
Kristen Rainey, Global Vendor & Supplier Relations Manager – Google
Ashley Sanoli, Senior Policy & Program Advisor – Oregon Department of Environment Quality (DEQ)

Session Five:
The Tesla of Ecovillages – Feeding the Planet

James Erlich, ReGen Villages