More restaurants join Island Eats

Island Eats, the renewable dining pilot program which started in May, added four more restaurants to its lineup: Chilmark Tavern, Waterside Market in Vineyard Haven, Juice by the Sea MV and Aalia’s Coffee in Oak Bluffs. A total of nine restaurants are now participating in the program.

“We’re going to have four restaurants in Oak Bluffs, which is nice because we’re going to have a small group there,” Island Eats founder Jessica Mason said.

The pilot initially began with Bobby B’s in Vineyard Haven, MV Salads and Pawnee House in Oak Bluffs, and Black Sheep and Katama General Store in Edgartown to offer to-go bowls made from 75 percent recycled stainless steel during the season of ‘summer to combat the impact. of single-use packaging on the environment. The pilot works through a bowl and chip exchange system. Participants use tokens, which cost $25 each, in exchange for bowls to hold their food orders. The bowls can be returned to any of the participating restaurants in exchange for a token. Used bowls are cleaned and sanitized at Kitchen Porch’s commercial facility near the Martha’s Vineyard Airport.

At first, the pilot was limited to 120 participants because Mason wanted to make sure he “had capacity within the program.” However, Mason said the number grew to 170 members.

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“Once we started rolling, I was really surprised to see how incredibly smooth things went, and we actually have a lot more capacity in the system than we had planned,” he said.

Andrea Peraino, owner of Juice by the Sea, said Mason approached her about joining the program. Peraino is “super excited” to be a part of Island Eats.

“I think it’s a brilliant program, and I think we’re going to do well with it,” Peraino said. “I actually hope it expands past September, because we have a lot of customers year-round and we’re here year-round.”

The success of the program and the support it has received were hopeful signs for Mason Island. “It’s incredibly exciting to think about the way a small group of people can come together and think about alternative ways of doing things that we’re really familiar with,” Mason said, referring to the traditional and more wasteful system of takeout. “I think it’s very encouraging to see when we want to think about creating an alternative here on the island, we can step up and do it, and there’s a kind of community of people who have joined or come around the initiative to support it. and for it to succeed.”

Mason said some of the first members are Island Eats’ biggest cheerleaders. One such follower is Monique Burr, one of the first members of Island Eats. “I think I was ranked number 5 when I signed up. I was really excited,” Burr said. Using the reusable bowl system has been easy for her. Among the participating restaurants, Burr “gravitated” to Black Sheep because it’s a little bit “in the middle of everything” .

Meredith Danberg-Ficarelli, another Island Eats member and zero-waste professional, described the program as “a pioneering first step” and is excited about the possibility that it could “leapfrog” other waste reduction initiatives.

“We cannot expect individuals to be responsible for solving climate change: individual action and community motivation are the basis on which systemic change must occur, and individual action creates essential market signals who lead the way,” Danberg-Ficarelli said in an email. “Island Eats is proof that there is demand and support for environmentally responsible systems from both consumers and businesses, and presents a common sense alternative to disposables in an island economy that pays to import produce and it also pays to export waste.”

Mason said he also has to look to the future and think about what Island Eats’ growth and scale will look like. The most immediate task is to find out where the bowls can be washed after September. Use of Kitchen Porch facilities by Island Eats is until September 30th only.

“The goal has always been for this to be a year-round program to serve both year-round residents and vacationers,” he said. Three-quarters of the members are year-round residents, according to Mason. “There’s certainly a demand to continue beyond the end of September, so if we’re able to sort out the ‘where do we wash’ question, we’d like to find a way to keep that going.”

Entries for bowls can still be made online at islandeatsmv.com. More information can also be found on the Island Eats Instagram page at bit.ly/3srsGpy. The pilot program will run until the end of September.

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