On Tuesday, August 2 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Powerhouse, a kickoff event will be held for Oxford and Lafayette County’s new SPORK program.
SPORK, which stands for Sustainable Practices for Our Restaurant Kitchens, began as a Leadership Lafayette project in February of 2016 with the goal of promoting sustainable practices in local restaurants. In September, the program will be taken over by Sustainable Oxford, which has been a partner since the project’s inception.
The event on August 2 will include food from SPORK’s inaugural restaurants: Oxford Canteen, Snackbar, Ravine and My Michelle’s; an open bar; music; kid’s activities; a raffle and information on Oxford sustainability programs. Tickets are $10 per person and children are free.
Inspired by Project Green Fork in Memphis, the mission of SPORK in Lafayette County is to work with local restaurants to help the transition over to sustainable products; recycling; non-toxic cleaning products; reduced energy and water consumption; pollution prevention; local vendors and composting (where applicable).
“We contacted Project Green Fork and they sent us the tool kit that they send out to restaurants,” said Caitlin Hopper, one of SPORK’s original team leaders. “So what we’ve created is modeled very closely to what they do, but takes into account the parameters that affect Lafayette County, such as not being able to recycle glass yet in Oxford.”
“When I saw places like Central BBQ in Memphis displaying the Project Green Fork sticker and using recycled paper to-go containers, I thought, wouldn’t it be great if Oxford could have something like that,” said Shannon Curtis, project coordinator of Sustainable Oxford. “Then Leadership Lafayette contacted me and asked if I’d heard of Project Green Fork and if I’d like to be involved; I said absolutely.”
“I think Oxford’s third biggest employer is the restaurant industry,” said Curtis. “It’s such a big part of our economy and our DNA, so now we’re looking at how we can help alleviate the carbon footprint that this awesome thing we have is causing.”
Several local restaurants are already on board and following the SPORK program, including Oxford Canteen, Ravine, My Michelle’s and Snackbar. “It’s been a learning process getting started, but we have a list of restaurants that are interested in finding out more,” said Curtis. “We go through the contract, the toolkit and the list of criteria with them to answer any questions and then return for a SPORK audit when they’re ready.”
In addition to food, drinks and kid’s activities, guests at the August 2 event will be able to visit with other local sustainable businesses. “I think having organizations on hand at the event who can talk about topics such as recycling is great for those who have questions or are interested in learning more,” said Hopper.
For more information about SPORK, and to reserve your ticket for the August 2 event, visit https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/spork–2. All proceeds from the event go to support the SPORK program. To find out more about Sustainable Oxford, visit them on Facebook.
Liz Barrett Foster is the EatingOxford editor for HottyToddy.com, an award-winning business journalist and author of the recently published Pizza: A Slice of American History. Liz ran the popular restaurant information site EatingOxford.com from 2009 to 2015. Liz can be reached at email@example.com.