All events start out with the goal of making an impact. The organisers may wish to give guests a night they’ll never forget, to impress guests with certain achievements, or to introduce them to some celebrated personage. But what about making a social impact, or an event with a significant effect on the common good, with further benefits that extend beyond the event date or venue?
As a provider of social impact catering services, Meals with Impact redefines impactful event catering, not just with its cultural food event options, but also with its mission to empower women from diverse backgrounds with meaningful employment opportunities. This makes every event booking with us a sterling example of alignment with the ESG goals of your organisation.
In this article, we’ll review what ESG goals are, as well as the role of social procurement in helping organisations to achieve those goals. Then, we’ll take a look at the 10 elements of impactful event catering in the context of your organisation’s environmental, social and corporate governance objectives.
Managing Organisational Impact
ESG goals enable organisations to mitigate their impact on society and the environment by making them accountable for the outcomes of related strategies. The three ESG goals are
1. Environmental, or what the organisation is doing to protect and conserve our natural resources
2. Social, or the way the organisation supports the community and treats its own staff
3. Governance, or how ethical an organisation is in complying with regulations
Investors and the general public hold organisations responsible for their ESG efforts and will often censure organisations seeming to neglect their duties by not investing in or patronising their products or services. Regulatory agencies will even fine organisations for non-compliance with ESG-related directives.
To help organisations reach their ESG goals, social procurement is a way for them to use their purchasing power to make a positive social impact beyond the value of the products or services they pay for. Procurement covers the entire life cycles of the products or services being purchased, and what an organisation purchases has a direct effect on the environment and the community.
Because of this, investors and the general public expect organisations to use their purchasing power to achieve positive environmental and social outcomes. An organisation might purchase what it needs from mainstream suppliers and use the purchased products or services for ESG-related purposes.
But the most straightforward form of social procurement is to purchase products or services from a social enterprise, because this contributes directly to an organisation’s ESG goals. This also creates more opportunities for social enterprises to grow and continue their good work, as well as makes them better able to compete with their mainstream counterparts.
Making an Impact with Event Catering
Catered events provide excellent opportunities for organisations to meet their ESG objectives. To do this, here are the 10 elements impactful event catering should have for a truly socially responsible event. If just one of these elements falls short in terms of quality, the entire event may fall short of the organisation’s ESG goals.
1. Inclusive Guest List
The event should welcome everyone regardless of background or ability. Knowing the backgrounds of your guests beforehand can also help you plan the menu with your caterer. Knowing the number of guests will likewise help with seating arrangements and make sure you have enough staff on hand to make your guests comfortable and feel that they’re taken care of.
2. Culturally Diverse Catering
Regardless of the event line-up or decor, the food being served is usually the aspect of any event that guests remember the most, for good or ill. Culturally diverse or dietary requirement catering can help make sure that the cuisine choices accommodate cultural as well as voluntary needs.
Alternatives should also be available for those with food allergies or dietary restrictions such as gluten or dairy intolerance.
Serving ethnic cuisine is also generally considered a cut above the kind of ordinary event catering Melbourne partygoers are accustomed to, and is perceived as being creative and socially aware. Ethnic foods also provide more flexibility in meeting special dietary requirements.
Meals with Impact offers several different options, such as its Cultural Foods and Events Menu, the Celebration Feast and Roaming Feast, as well as a series of Simple Curry Plates. Our dietary options also include Halal, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, low gluten and low FODMAP.
3. Preference for Local, Registered Providers
A great way to practise social procurement is to favour providers of catering services Melbourne-based organisations would find convenient. Going local would also enable you to serve freshly prepared food using seasonal ingredients for more nutritious meal catering options.
Meals with Impact is based in the Docklands within easy driving distance of the Melbourne CBD and offers seasonal catering menus for events such as morning teas, private gatherings, cultural festivals and corporate meetings.
In choosing a social enterprise for supportive mission catering services, you will need to make sure that the caterer is recognised by relevant authorities as a registered charity. Meals with Impact is certified by Social Traders as a social enterprise, as well as registered with the Not-for-profits Commission or ACNC and Australian Charities.
4. Clear Communication
Make sure that your objectives for the event are well understood in your communications with the caterer and suppliers. They need to know exactly what your desired outcome is and your reasons behind it.
They will also need to have complete information such as the number of guests and VIPs, special dietary requirements, and equipment such as sound systems and projectors. You must also let them know about any last-minute changes in a timely manner.
5. Correct Catering Style
The projected length of the event will determine the kind of catering service to be used. A sit-down dinner or a buffet service would be better suited to events lasting an entire evening, for example, while platters or packaged meals would be more appropriate for cocktails or a relatively quick lunch.
Meals with Impact has successfully catered long table lunches and formal dinners as well as outdoor events where boxed lunches were served.
6. Innovative and Well-staged Presentation
Great attention to detail in the way the food is presented and served expresses the high regard and respect that you have for each of your guests. Make sure the food is attractive, tastefully arranged and smells delicious, and the plates or containers are clean. Tableware, glassware, linens and decorations must all be on point.
Meals with Impact prepares beautifully arranged platters of sweet and savoury small bites, wraps and sandwiches, while the rich tints and aromas of their hot dishes garnished with exotic herbs and spices are sure to entice and delight guests.
7. Great Customer Service
Making sure that your guests feel welcome and respected is most appreciable in the way they are treated and served by the event and catering staff. Training is indispensable when it comes to providing outstanding service, as well as helping to minimise the risk of food poisoning. Staff should also be well-groomed, pleasant and know how to prioritise the needs of multiple guests.
The team at Meals with Impact undergoes continuous training to ensure the superior quality of their customer service, not just at catered events but at their multicultural hub and food van service, as well. Our team members are professional and proficient at serving even a large number of guests, and extra staff can be made available as needed.
Additionally, we team up with the awesome folks at Good Cycles, who hop around on bikes to deliver our catering to nearby offices, keeping it green and eco-friendly!
8. Well-planned Programme
You will also have to be clear in your communications with guests, making sure that they understand not only what the event is all about but also what it says about your organisation’s ESG compliance. Your ESG-related brand values may also be incorporated into or suggested by the event theme.
Planning out the event programme, particularly if there are speakers or presentations, or entertainment such as live performances, will be essential to ensure a smooth event.
9. Corporate Image Building
An event can speak volumes about the organisation hosting it, with catering being one of the event’s most eloquent components. The organisation’s branding should be expressed in every aspect of the event right down to the service, and can even be literally or discreetly included in the decor.
10. Environmentally Sound Materials and Processes
Events can consume a lot of energy and resources. Still, with careful planning, they may be organised so as to lessen their impact on the environment. An event may be held outdoors in the daytime, for instance, to use natural light, and recycled or repurposed materials may be used in the decor. Meals with Impact uses recyclable catering boxes and can provide biodegradable napkins, plates and cutlery. We also pride ourselves in offering a bicycle courier service for deliveries to reduce food delivery miles, making it not only a social impact, but a sustainable one too.
Make your next event a clear expression of your organisation’s commitment to its ESG goals.
Meals with Impact offers women empowerment through catering that provides women from refugee and migrant backgrounds with the training and support they need to prepare them for the Australian workplace and to support their families. Proceeds from all our events go towards this mission, as well as towards providing culturally appropriate food relief to marginalised communities.
Behind every successful dish, there are hardworking and persevering women willing to do their part in improving every person’s quality of life. As long as they have their recipes, talent and compassion to share, there will always be Meals With Impact.
Meals With Impact is dedicated to empowering women from migrant and refugee backgrounds, helping them achieve employment success through our united passion for food. Get in touch with us to find out how you can help us in our mission, today.