Employee Tasting

Food fair raises money for heart disease at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center.

FoodService Director, Lincoln Health Center, tasting fairMATTOON, Ill.—Last month for Heart Month at 200-bed Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, the food and nutrition department hosted a tasting fair, during which employees tested 27 items provided by eight vendors. According to Cathy Babbs, director of food and nutrition services, the goals for the fair were to add new food options to the Basement Bistro, the hospital’s café, and to raise money for the American Heart Association.

For the tasting fair, employees were invited to visit the hospital’s education center where they could sample the different food items. For a suggested donation of $4, the staff could sample the items and fill out a ballot. The event raised $750 for the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk. Babbs and her staff will then take the results and add the most popular items to the Basement Bistro. More than 190 ballots were returned and the favorite items included cheesecake, teriyaki chicken and a corn muffin. In all, 18 of the 27 items will be added to the café’s menu in the following months.

This isn’t the first time the department has done a tasting fair. In 2002 for the hospital’s 25th anniversary, they held a Quarter Century Celebration. The employees, once again, tasted items supplied by vendors. Instead of asking for a suggested donation, employees gave a quarter for each sample they took. The event raised $1,000.

Babbs said after doing the Quarter Century Celebration, employees began asking the department to host a similar event. “We kept hearing on our surveys that this was something they really liked and wanted to do again,” she said.

FoodService Director, Lincoln Health Center, tasting fair“We are always looking for ways to add variety in our café and the tasting fair is a good way to do that,” Babbs said. She added that the event is also a good way to judge how well employees will accept healthier food items.
For the past three years, the department has pushed healthier items through its Fresh Start program. All items sold in the café have nutritional information posted and those items that meet the department’s healthy criteria are marked with an apple logo. Those items that are classified as Fresh Start have a built-in 25% discount. For example, skim milk is 40 cents while 2% milk is 60 cents.

“The administration actually funds this discount, so I get credit for the things that I am selling,” Babbs said. “The administration wants to support healthy eating in the bistro. We have seen an increase in the Fresh Start items, especially in the little things. People will get baked chips rather than the regular chips or the skim milk instead of the 2%.”
 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

Menu Development
meatloaf slices plate

“This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had,” a diner at Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications in Naperville, Ill., once told chef Iraj Fernando. The dish was rooted in a tried-and-true source—the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

“I just seasoned the breadcrumbs differently, used fresh parsley and beat the eggs to make them frothier,” says Fernando, executive chef and manager for Southern Foodservice Management.

Consumer interest is up for classic and comforting meat dishes like meatballs (16%), beef pot pie (26%) and meatloaf (12%) for dinner now compared to two years ago, shows...

Ideas and Innovation
oxford school district cafeteria

We have spent considerable money making cafeterias cool again. New paint jobs, crazy color patterns, custom graphics and changes in lighting schemes have made some of our cafes popular gathering places. We’ve also experimented with videos, cable TV programs and music. We involved a number of student groups and student input in improving the atmosphere, especially in our high school and middle school cafeterias.

Ideas and Innovation
kale quinoa salad

With all the hype around probiotics, we decided to create a daily dish that incorporates probiotics in addition to prebiotics. You rarely hear about prebiotics, and this was a great way to highlight how the two work synergistically to maintain a healthy gut. Our chefs have developed menu items such as roasted salmon with yogurt and mint vinaigrette; kale and quinoa salad with warm maple dressing; and leek soup with pickled cucumbers, to name a few.

FSD Resources