At O’Hare: Recommendations for airport food so good, you’ll WANT your flight to be delayed

From its ubiquitous hot dogs (hold the ketchup!) to five-star restaurants, Chicago is a culinary destination, and people travel from across the country to experience the gastronomic delights that the Windy City has to offer. Many of those individuals pass through O’Hare Airport — the second-largest airport in the country — on their way to one or many of the eateries that call Chicago home.

If the city is a gathering place for foodies, then why not make its largest airport a destination in itself? That’s precisely the suggestion of O’Hare’s food and beverage workers. Very soon, the city will set guidelines for companies interested in managing future concessions operations at O’Hare, and who better to help shape the new menu than its workers? Their vision includes fresh, local and sustainable fare prepared from scratch by the people who know O’Hare and its passengers best: airport workers, some of whom have over 30 years of experience on the job. Their recommentations are:

  1. ORD-er fresh, healthy and local
    • Require bidders to provide fresh, scratch cooking concepts in each concourse
    • Ensure every outlet includes clearly labeled healthy, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options for travelers
    • Require that bidders develop a plan to purchase at least 10% of produce from the Midwest, with preference for produce grown in Illinois and Chicago
  2. Make the most (and least) of food waste
    • Require bidders to detail how they will donate food that would otherwise be thrown out, minimize waste, and use eco-friendly disposal methods
  3. Make real food work: Invest in airport workers
    • Require job stability for O’Hare’s existing food and passenger experts – airport workers – and labor harmony throughout the transition
    • Invest in developing a worker training program for the transi- tion and beyond

By following these recommendations, O’Hare can build upon its current sustainability efforts — which include the cultivation of an on-site hydroponic garden that provides ingredients for several of its restaurants — to become a model example of a major city airport that is taking concrete steps towards creating a better, more sustainable traveling experience for passengers and airport workers alike.

To learn more, read their full report, “Putting Sustainability on the Table: Airport Workers’ Vision for $3 Billion of Food and Drink at O’Hare”!

What’s on the menu at O’Hare has yet to be decided, and you can add your own voice!

In “Putting Sustainability on the Table,” airport workers shared their recommendations for the soon-to-be-changing menu at O’Hare Airport. Now it’s your turn! What kind of food would you like to see (and eat!) at the Airport?

Let us know by taking our quick survey here:

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