2007 Portability Study: Portability on the menu

Portability continues to be a big part of most foodservice operators’ business, according to the 2007 FoodService Director Study on Portability.

However, portability can enhance other types of promotions, particularly where wellness is concerned. For example, at Benjamin Hays High School in Atlanta, a program called “Walk It Out Wednesday” encourages students to use half of their lunch period for physical activity. Students who sign up for the program are given preferential treatment in the cafeteria line and are encouraged to take healthful items such as pre-packaged salads that can be eaten quickly.

At Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, portability helped Sodexho meet a hospital goal that at least 16% of the hospital cafeteria’s items be wellness oriented. So Foodservice Director Greg Brown created Mezza Luna, a station that offers half-portions of foods that can be combined to make a healthful meal that easily can be taken away. Combos include one-half a personal pizza and a small salad, and a half-sandwich combined with a cup of carrot or celery sticks.

When it comes to building business, packaging and merchandising continue to be the primary building blocks, with more than 50% of operators saying they are looking to buy new kinds of packaging materials to enhance portability and maintain food safety. More than 47% of respondents say they plan to improve the way they display their grab-and-go merchandise, while 42% indicated they plan to set up dedicated stations for take-away items.

However, when it comes to packaging portable foods, cost and durability still trump environmental concerns. The most popular forms of packaging continue to be plastic clamshells (62%), plastic salad bowls with clear lids (60%), other types of plastic containers (59%) and foam containers (57%). Almost no one in the survey indicated they were using biodegradable containers, and cost is very likely the reason. Operators with whom FSD editors have spoken say that they would like to see the cost of such environmentally sound packages come down before they make the investment.

One institution that has begun to make biodegradable packaging available is Stanford University. Because students are asking for it, and because the university has a composting program, biodegradable containers are being used in some campus foodservice facilities. But the cost is being borne by the customers themselves; where “green” serviceware—including take-away containers—are offered, customers pay a 15-cent premium for choosing to protect the environment. About one-third of the patrons who can, opt for the costlier containers.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
scratch card

Two days a week, we do scratch card purchases of $6 or more to get a free item on the next visit. Patients and staff look forward to the Monday and Friday scratch card days. It increases sales on slow days as well as guest satisfaction.

Ideas and Innovation
ramen noodles

The Arkansas Heart Hospital in Little Rock has unveiled a new, full-time food truck called Food from the Heart. It’s the first hospital-owned and operated food truck in the nation, according to KATV .

The truck, which will offer a limited menu that includes Chef Coby Smith ’s popular ramen, served its first meal on May 2 and will roll out service throughout the area beginning next month, the report said.

In addition, it will have pop-up locations, allowing the hospital to extend its reach to communities outside metro Little Rock. The truck can also be used in emergency...

Industry News & Opinion

In a bid to boost sustainability, Dartmouth Dining Services recently replaced its paper straws with red-and-white paper versions that are biodegradable, The Dartmouth reports .

The move is “a small step but a very important one,” Associate Director of Dining Services Don Reed told The Dartmouth.

While paper straws are slightly more expensive for the department than plastic ones, the difference is slight enough to justify, Reed says.

Not all students at the Hanover, N.H., school are on board with the change, however, and some are reportedly hoarding straws from...

Industry News & Opinion

After reaching a tentative deal with the district, Los Angeles Unified School District cafeteria staff will no longer strike for 24 hours on Tuesday, Los Angeles Daily News reports.

The workers, who belong to Service Employees International Union Local 99, will receive a 3% pay increase that is retroactive to July 1 of last year. Employees who did not receive a full pay raise in their previous contract will also be eligible for an extra 1% increase if they participate in additional training or work.

Additionally, workers will receive a 3% increase for the 2018-19 school...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code