2008 Menu Development Survey: The state of the plate 2008

Ethnic menu items continue to gain popularity among noncommercial foodservice operators.

Veggie volume
According to the survey, 9% of the average noncommercial menu is given over to vegetarian or vegan food items. That figure is up slightly from 7% last year. The biggest jump in vegetarian items is on college campuses, where 15% of the average menu is given over to meatless items; the percentage last year was 10%.

In the other market sectors, the percentages of vegetarian and vegan items are: B&I, 9%; hospitals and schools, 8%, and long-term care, 4%.

When it comes to requests for meatless options, 12% of college customers are asking for them, 10% of B&I customers, 6% in hospitals, and 4% in schools and long-term care.

Trans-fat transition
The noncommercial industry is inching closer to a trans fat-free business, according to our survey. Only 10% of operators polled say they have not eliminated trans fats from their menu items; the number last year was 16%. Virtually all B&I operators have eliminated trans fats from at least some items, while on the flip side, 24% of long-term care operators still have yet to address the trans fats problem.

Regarding specific products and processes, on average 81% of operators have removed trans fats from frying oils and shortening, 57% from salad oils and 35% from baked goods. In addition, 25% say they have stopped purchasing products that contain trans fats.

“We continue to eliminate trans fats on a regular basis,” says Nona Golledge, director of dining for the University of Kansas. “It’s more about when products become available that we look at them, but it is definitely something we are moving forward with in all of our products.”

The local angle
Despite the increasing desire on the part of both customers and operators to do whatever they can to reduce the environmental footprint, sourcing local and/or organic products continues to be a challenge for many operators. Nearly 26% of operators say they are not sourcing any products locally, and 68% say they are not buying organic items. Last year, those percentages were 20% and 69%, respectively. For most operators, availability continues to be the major roadblock.

“We have really tried to push local and organic, but it has been difficult to get products through the regular local channels because there is not a wide enough variety,” says John Barclay, assistant director of nutritional care at Mission Hospital, Mission Viejo, Calif. “We are doing only a limited amount.”

Colleges and universities are most likely to be sourcing local and organic, with only 13% saying they don’t buy local products, and 36% saying they don’t source organic.

When it comes to products, those buying local are most likely to purchase locally grown produce and locally produced dairy items; 57% say they buy produce, 55% buy dairy, 38% buy baked goods and 33% buy meats and/or seafood from local sources.

On the organic side, 22% of operators buying organic source produce, 17% source snacks and 11% source meats/seafood and/or dairy.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Noncommercial foodservice operations and other employers would be spared from costly new overtime pay regulations if 21 states succeed in the legal challenge they jointly filed yesterday.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to set aside the rules, which are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1.

If the court rejects the request, restaurants and other businesses will be required after that date to pay overtime to any salaried employee who works more than 40 hours in a week and earns less than $47,476 on an annual basis.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

The new unpaid-balance policy at Canon-McMillan School District in Pittsburgh is making waves after a former cafeteria worker sounded off about the practice on social media.

Stacy Koltiska said she quit her job with the district after being forced to take hot meals away from students who owed lunch money, CBS News reports .

Under a new policy that was implemented at Canon-McMillan this year, students whose lunch debt exceeds $25 are not allowed to receive a hot lunch. Children in grades K-6 are given a sandwich in its place, and older students receive no lunch. A recent...

Industry News & Opinion

Due to low participation in its lunch program, Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio, is raising the price of school meals this year, Patch.com reports .

The cost of school lunches will see a 30-cent increase, half of which is being enacted to cover the district’s budget. The other half is being required by the government to cover the cost of free and reduced-price lunches provided to low-income families. Prior to this year, the district had not raised prices since 2009.

The district’s cafeterias have experienced a decline in student participation since implementing the...

Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...

FSD Resources