Yvette Hirang

EBT’s Green Intern

When you eat at a restaurant, do you know where the food came from? Do you know what happens to the food still left on your plate? Do you know what that restaurant is doing to save the planet while still pleasing its customers? 

Probably not. Yvette Hirang wants to change that. 

Hirang was the first student at JCCC to complete a special 360-hour internship in the hospitality industry that focused on sustainability. 

She worked at EBT Restaurant in Kansas City, Mo., in a pilot program funded by an EnergyWorks KC Green Jobs Workforce Development grant. 

Because the program was only for one semester, “really, I just got started, and it was time to go,” she said. “That’s the frustrating part. But I do think I helped the restaurant to start the process of a certification.” 

That certification – from the Green Restaurant Association – examines seven different categories of restaurant standards, including energy use, sustainable food, water efficiency and waste reduction and recycling. 

“To obtain a certification, it takes hours and hours of research and study. Even in one category – sustainable food – it could take months to become certified,” Hirang said. 

The restaurant must know where its food comes from and how it’s produced. Local produce is favored over faraway food. But what’s considered local? Hirang had to find out. 

And what about the eggs? Are they cage-free, grown in conditions that have been certified humane?  Every item on the menu needed to be considered. And that was just one category. 

“It’s definitely not an easy process to be certified,” Hirang said. “But I think it’s a worthwhile process, and I was very excited to be the first person to have this opportunity.” 

Adam Horner, manager, EBT restaurant, said Hirang’s help was a great jumpstart to the certification process. “We never would have gotten done the amount of analysis that was done in that time frame without her help,” he said. 

“For me, it’s about the future of the restaurant, but it’s also about the future of the city and the future of the environment,” he said. “It’s not easy to change the status quo. If it were, everyone would be making these changes.”

Horner said Hirang was friendly, cooperative and extremely professional while at EBT. 

Even after her internship ended in May, Hirang went back to EBT to continue the process and to make it easier for the students who will be taking over. 

This fall, two hospitality students will become “green” interns at EBT and continue the restaurant’s efforts to become green certified. 

Ten other restaurants have voiced interest in the program, as more customers become cognizant of the benefits of environmental activism in all aspects of life. 

The EnergyWorks KC Green Jobs Workforce Development grant from the Mid-America Regional Council was $49,950. Hirang was paid from this grant during her internship, as will her successors. 

Restaurants in the program receive up to $2,600 to implement the sustainable practices suggested by the students. Funding from the grant is also available to pursue the costs of certification. 

This material is based upon work supported, in whole or in part, by the U.S. Department of Energy - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy under Grant Award Number DE-EE0003564 from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Better Buildings Program made available pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (RECOVERY ACT) of 2009.

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