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
baked bread

Instead of sourcing value-added product to reduce labor, the food and nutrition team at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison outsources its baked goods to a local shop that hires only formerly incarcerated workers. The bakery was able to hire two new former inmates in order to keep up with the volume needs of the hospital. “We want to be really entrenched in the community, not just have a building that sits in the center of Madison,” says Amy Mihm, clinical nutrition specialist for the hospital.

Managing Your Business
food symbols allergens

Bellevue School District in King County, Wash., has reduced the instances of life-threatening allergic reactions by 94% since 2013. Wendy Weyer, business manager for nutrition services, says that success stems from direct communication with the district’s 20,000 students.

Q: What was the first thing you did to start reducing allergic reactions?

A: More than five years ago, we changed our menu signage to provide information to students on what the common allergens were on all the foods that were served at every station. We use symbols such as an egg or a wheat stalk for younger...

Ideas and Innovation
cold storage boxes

When working with a small footprint, the back of the house often gets squeezed in the interest of preserving precious seats. But as storage space contracts, these restaurant operators are getting resourceful with everything from shelves to ceiling height to inventory in ways that FSDs can apply, too.

“When we were first tasked with figuring out smaller footprints, when it came to interiors, it was like a bad riddle,” says Trinity Hall, SVP of development for Dallas-based Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, which shrunk its prototype from 2,200 square feet to 1,800. “Let’s make it smaller and...

Menu Development
induction cooking nuts

Thanks to prolific fast casuals such as Chipotle, guests have come to expect a certain level of customization in their dining options. For almost 50% of Generation Zers, customization is a deciding factor when purchasing food, according Technomic’s 2016 Generational Consumer Trend Report . Taking customization even further, operations are handing over even more control to customers with both build-your-own and cook-your-own stations.

Elder Hall’s My Kitchen station at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., offers a daily rotating ingredient bar with items such as stir-fry,...

FSD Resources