"An army marches on its stomach," or so said Napoleon. But does an assembly plant?


Currywurst and fries may be verboten at one Canadian assembly plant, but they're a profit center at a German facility.

“An army marches on its stomach,” or so said Napoleon. But what about an assembly plant?

Recently, Pratt & Whitney Canada was recognized for taking a healthy approach to feeding its workers. The company’s Mississauga, ON, plant, which assembles aircraft engines, received the Region of Peel’s Eat Smart! Award of Excellence for outfitting its cafeteria with healthy food options. Pratt & Whitney was also recognized for its exceptional food safety record.

Nancy Geronazzo, a dietitian with the Region of Peel, said employees have embraced the new menu, which offers more options in whole grain bread, fruit, vegetables and low-fat milk products.

It’s not just the menu that’s been revamped. The cafeteria also presents food differently. For example, though butter is still available, it’s kept out of sight. Instead, packages of margarine are up front. Also, healthier breakfast cereals and oatmeal have a larger presence than sugar-filled choices. “Eat Smart!” stickers are affixed to healthy foods to help employees identify such choices.

“We're not trying to take foods like fries away from employees, but we’re trying to keep the healthier choices out front and, therefore, in people’s minds,” says Geronazzo.

If assembler’s at Pratt & Whitney can’t stomach the thought of whole-wheat bread and veggies, they ought to consider that healthy food is better than no food at all. As part of its massive cost-cutting efforts, Chrysler closed the cafeterias at some of its plants.

Whether they offer burgers or broccoli, plant cafeterias can yield benefits beyond satisfying hunger pangs. At Toyota’s assembly plant in Georgetown, KY, food and waste paper are collected daily from the facility’s six cafeterias and composted for use in landscaping around the assembly plant.

And then there’s Volkswagen, where the modest offerings of a plant cafeteria turned into a profit center for the automaker. The company’s massive headquarters plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, actually makes more sausages than it does cars. A butcher shop located in a corner of the assembly plant supplies sausages-currywursts, to be exact-to about two dozen company plants and offices across Europe.

Just don’t tell anyone at Pratt & Whitney the fat content of currywurst.