Food for Thought: An Interview With Our Director of Innovation, Jessi Moffitt
Welcome to the first edition of Food For Thought, a blog where we interview Canteen’s executives and learn more about their professional and personal lives. First up, Jessi Moffitt, let’s take it away.
Director of Innovation
First things first, you’re moving to the Bay Area,the mecca of Canteen Pantry! How big of a difference is that going to make in your day-to-day job?
I’m so excited to be heading to one of our core markets. It’s going to make a huge difference – closer to our clients, many of our suppliers, and closer to the people we serve every day. I’m really looking forward to being able to spend more time with the teams out there and spend time at our client sites. We have some awesome people out there, and they’re welcoming me with open arms. I think together we will continue to take our programs to another level.
A 46-hour road trip stands between you and California living. Which road trip snack are you picking up before you hit the road?
The only road trip snack is salt and vinegar potato chips. I don’t even need to consider anything else.
You know what you like – we respect that. Speaking of snacking, how do you see the way people are eating, changing?
Well, external research confirms that people are eating smaller meals and snacking more throughout the day. And if you walk into a Canteen Pantry today and just watch people, you can see it for yourself: small breakfast snack, mid-morning graze, after lunch boost, afternoon pick me up, all-day hydration. It all has to do with the way we balance our days now: commutes and workdays are longer, we have more things to do after work, people don’t want to gorge themselves and feel terrible after a big meal… There are so many reasons.
If you looked 20-25 years ago, snacks were a once in a blue moon treat – typically overly sweet or fatty. Today, snacks truly run the gamut. Our number one snack is far and away fresh produce.
I think what excites me most about food and snacking today is that food is healthier, but CPG companies are figuring out how to make taste and texture feel so much more indulgent and crave-able than the ‘health foods’ of just a few years ago. No matter what your dietary preference or reason for snacking, it has to taste good. We’re in the age of good taste.
You’re the expert. Tell us your favorite Pantry hack.
I saw a meme recently about Lunchables being the OG Charcuterie Board. Us Oregon Trail millennials grew up on those things. My hack is to think creatively – I can make a mean faux-cuterie board from a pantry – cheeses, dips, olives, pickles, crackers, hard-boiled eggs, dried fruit, and meats. Perfect spread for a long group meeting (it definitely becomes a talking point and pulls people together) or a smaller, personal version when you miss lunch.
Also: always try the new things. If you have a Canteen Pantry, we work hard to bring you items that we really think you’ll like. Give it a try! Change is good.
Tech break: what’s the latest innovation in pantry? ‘Eat It Or Delete It’ – a feedback tool that helps us learn what your breakroom wants more of. It gives consumers the power – guests swipe left or right depending on if they like an item or not. That’s my favorite.
What’s something sentimental you’re taking with you to San Fran?
My grandpop’s cribbage board.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Hah – my dogs are cuter, smarter, and better than your dogs.
We heard you love hockey. How does a Georgia native end up playing a winter sport?
My dad played, and once I went to my first game, I was hooked. Skating and playing hockey is a great release. You really can’t really think about anything that’s bugging you when you’re trying to balance on small knife blades, hold a stick, hit a puck, and not get knocked out by someone.
You’re also a big supporter of the Special Olympics. Can you tell us more about your role and why it’s important to you?
In North Carolina, I was a volunteer games director with SONC. I believe fiercely in inclusion; everyone should have an opportunity to feel safe, loved, and be a meaningful contributor to their community. Get out to a Special Olympics event and show your support for the athletes in your community – they’re amazing. Take it a step further and figure out what your passion is and volunteer with an organization that aligns with your purpose. It really does make a difference in your life and others.
What is currently playing on your Podcast playlist?
Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me
My Favorite Murder (I guess I’m a snackarino?)
How I Made This
You have a pretty cool job. How did you end up at Canteen, leading the charge on pantry?
I’ve always wanted to work in food – I love the culture and the people. I did the restaurant thing in high school and college. My first ‘real’ job was in procurement and contract management, then corporate training, then marketing and communications, and now this. I think it’s a good fit that brings together a diverse work history and a huge passion for food and people.
We have so much to be excited about at Canteen. Where do you see the future of pantry going?
In my opinion, everyone has a responsibility to leave this place better than how we found it. We are working so hard to make our breakrooms more sustainable. Some changes are fairly simple, and we roll those out consistently, but some are so complex that we are years away from seeing a meaningful solution across the supply chain.
My vision for the Breakroom of the Future is centered on sustainability at all touchpoints. It’s going to take all of us to get there.