2005 Portability Study: Meals on the move

FoodService Director's first annual portability study.

Some of the nuances of non-commercial foodservice pose special challenges to successful portable meal implementation. For example: at UNC, like many other campuses, officials wrangle with how to fit grab-and-go meals into meal plans. “We are very cost-conservative on how much we can put into [portable business],” Brown says. “Meal plans were designed to feed students in the dining room, so we have to be sensitive to our missed-meal factor as well as to customer needs.”

To do both, operators often set up dedicated portable meal stations, if not full-fledged facilities offering carryout meals and nothing else. At UNC, for example, there are two Gourmet to Go units on campus. Both offer a brown bag meal for three main dayparts that students assemble almost like a reimbursable meal in a grade school. For $4 at breakfast and $5.50 at lunch or dinner, customers make a center-plate selection (cereal and muffin at breakfast, say, or sandwich at lunch), then add a fruit and a beverage. Desserts are included at lunch and dinner.

Yogurt and bagels are the most popular breakfast items, Brown notes. A “simple” turkey sandwich on a baguette tops the lunch/dinner offering, while tuna kits and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches are close behind. They’re the do-it-yourself variety, which students assemble using squeezable packets. Other items include carrot and celery sticks with ranch dressing, soup cups, hot and cold cereal in carryable containers and fresh fruit.

“We try to control the protein items, and the key to [controlling fruit costs] is if [items] are ripe and in season,” he adds. “We are studying and looking at different hot [meal] options— that’s one of the things students keep requesting, especially during the winter. We’re offering hot chocolate and coffee, but haven’t made the jump to hot food yet.”

Many foodservice directors in higher education can say that their portable meal business is rooted in efforts to adapt to students’ changing lifestyles. In this and other market segments, facility modifications drive the shift as well. For example, the cafeteria at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, N.J., will soon go under renovation, according to Regina Toomey-Bueno, director of food, nutrition and transport. During that time, there will still be customers to serve—so a temporary servery offering pre-packaged items will be set up in the seating area.

This servery “will be much smaller than our regular servery and we’ll need to move customers through quickly,” she says. “So we expect a sharp increase in portable foods.” The current facility has a deli bar offering seven or eight varieties a day, and that will rise to a dozen once construction begins.

“Plus we’ll be promoting soup more as a to-go item, and offer a soup-and-sandwich combo,” she adds. “Since we’ll be offering less hot food, we’ll make the effort to make cold items more attractive than they are today.”

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
boston college acai bowl

From Dannon Foodservice.

Catering to the go-go-go lifestyle of university students is a challenge, and it’s one that Boston College dining representatives wrestle with daily.

“Students don’t just want to eat dinner between 5 and 7 p.m.,” says Beth Emery, the school’s director of dining. “They may want to eat dinner at 9 o’clock. We’ve been trying to come up with creative solutions.”

Those creative solutions include everything from offering breakfast items throughout the day to providing healthier late-night choices to trolling social media for trendy new menu ideas...

Sponsored Content
savory yogurt parfait

From Dannon Foodservice.

What consumers eat and, most importantly, when they’re eating it has changed significantly in recent years, signaling opportunity for operators able to capitalize on this evolution.

For example, some 83% of consumers said they were daily snackers in 2016, according to Technomic’s Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report . That’s up from 76% just two years earlier. Snacking is growing across many channels from retail prepared foods to bakery and coffee cafes, fast-food locations and more.

Busy lifestyles, smaller households with greater meal...

Industry News & Opinion

Labor secretary nominee Andy Puzder has officially bowed out of consideration for the cabinet position, according to the Associated Press .

Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants—the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.—was tired of being under fire for hiring an undocumented immigrant as a nanny and being accused 26 years ago of physically abusing his wife, an unnamed source told CBS News . The agency reported that Puzder was unlikely to show for the start of his confirmation hearings tomorrow.

Puzder has also been attacked by organized labor for comments suggesting that...

Industry News & Opinion

Risley Dining Room at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has just become 100 percent gluten-free, 14850.com reports.

For the past two years, the university has slowly phased out gluten in the dining hall’s menu by eliminating it in its stir fries, biscuits and brownies.

Instead of offering gluten-free versions of typical college fare, including pizza and pasta, the dining service team aimed for more sophisticated restaurant-style items.

Along with being gluten-free, Risley is also peanut free and tree-nut free.

The dining room is the second college eatery...

FSD Resources