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Sustainability event to honor three area businesses

For the third year, local entrepreneurs, community leaders and area residents have joined together to celebrate efforts made on behalf of the Lehigh Valley’s economic, environmental and community health.

For the third year, local entrepreneurs, community leaders and area residents have joined together to celebrate efforts made on behalf of the Lehigh Valley’s economic, environmental and community health.

Three businesses will be honored at Sustain-A-Ball, a May 3 dinner ceremony at Allentown Brew Works that has ties to the former Sustainable Business Network of the Greater Lehigh Valley. It is modeled after a similar event in Philadelphia and is designed to get people together to exchange information in a fun and relaxing atmosphere.

In keeping with this year’s theme – food sustainability – nine related initiatives will be honored for their contribution to a local-food supply chain.

“Those honored are not to be seen necessarily as the ‘best of the best,’ but rather as representative of the exceptional efforts being put forward by many,” said Tom Kerr, the former president of Wildlands Conservancy and a member of the 2014 Sustain-a-Ball committee.

Along with academia, government, a consortium and nonprofits, the following businesses will be acknowledged:

After living in California – a state known for crop-loving sunshine and environmental thinking – Cali Burrito founders Shawn McHugh and Nick Sorrentino wanted to make healthy-but-fast food a key part of their Mexican restaurant. Local organic tofu and produce, trans fat-free vegetable frying oil, organic coffee and sugar cane are used whenever possible.

On Hamilton Boulevard in Allentown, the Cali Burrito menu also includes many vegetarian options.

Urban EcoFish will be recognized before it launches. Richard A. Niesenbaum, professor of biology and the director of an interdisciplinary program in sustainability studies at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, is behind this aquaculture endeavor that emerged from a student project. The opening date is undetermined; new technologies for sustainable fish production in urban Allentown are still being developed.

“In addition to providing healthy food while protecting the environment, a sustainable food system must also offer economic opportunity by creating jobs and supporting communities through sustained income beyond costs,” Niesenbaum said. “In light of this, UrbanEcoFish must be profitable.”

Pure Sprouts delivers organic produce to its customers’ doors once a week and soon will be offering workplace delivery.

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