FSD 2009 Potability Study: Portability still important

For a variety of reasons, customers still seek portable foods they can take away from the cafeteria, and most operators happily oblige.

Most recently, in an effort to “sell” breakfast as the most important meal of the day, UMass Dining introduced a grab-and-go hot breakfast program that has been well received by students.

In some institutions, like Wood County Hospital in Ohio, space limitations drive many customers into making their meals portable—a situation Foodservice Director Tim Bauman hopes to alleviate within a couple of years when a new building with a redesigned kitchen and servery is built.

“The cafeteria was built when we didn’t think we would have more than 250 people on campus,” Bauman explains. “Now, we have more than 1,000 people. Seventy percent of the food produced in the kitchen is not eaten in the cafeteria, whereas in most hospitals that number is around 50%. So I need a big cafeteria to accommodate all the people on campus.”

NYU Medical Center in New York City is another hospital where portability is an important element of the foodservice program.

“Our main cafeteria is very busy; we are doing close to $3 million in revenue a year, but it’s very tight and we have to get a lot of people through in a short period of time,” says Foodservice Director Regina Toomey Bueno. “So we try to really emphasize grab and go.”

Toomey Bueno attributes a 20% increase in retail sales since she arrived two years ago to the push for more portability on the menu.

Probably few operators have increased portability in their institutions more than Tony Geraci, foodservice director for the Baltimore City Public Schools. To build the district’s breakfast participation, Geraci implemented several innovations, including a boxed grab-and-go program and marketing campaign, that has led to a 400% increase in the number of children eating breakfast in school.

The breakfast boxes contain a low-sugar cereal, a juice, a whole-grain snack and a carton of milk. Through a partnership with the Baltimore Orioles baseball and Baltimore Ravens football teams, the boxes are decorated in the teams’ colors and logos, and 5% of the boxes contain a prize code for items like free music downloads and tickets to the sponsoring teams’ games.

How much take-away food non-commercial customers will buy in the coming year may be a matter for debate, but what they buy isn’t. Survey respondents the last few years have consistently reported that the most popular portable food items are beverages, salads, entrées or grill items and deli sandwiches. Combined, they make up 59% of the total portable food purchases, followed by snacks, pre-packaged breakfast foods, other prewrapped foods, desserts, entrées to take home and reheat and breakfast to order.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
staff pack

To keep staff motivated, we locked them in a room together. As part of a midsemester training session, we formed work groups and sent them to a local Escape Room to see which team could play the game together most effectively and escape first. Not only was this training a great team-building experience, but it supported a local new business and gave our staff a memorable experience.

Ideas and Innovation
star employee

Senior leadership meets twice a year to do organizational talent planning for every position from the top down. We talk about who are the potential high-performers, and go through how they can grow. People are your differentiator—you need to take care of your assets, and your assets are your human resources.

Industry News & Opinion

Students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will be served student-grown produce from the campus farm at dining halls this fall, M Live reports.

The dining team received its first batch of produce from UM’s on-campus farm in June, after students received the proper USDA certification to grow, harvest and deliver food to campus dining halls. In order to figure out what produce is needed, students communicate with the dining department weekly, and Michigan Dining purchases items accordingly.

"The students are involved from seed to plate," Executive Chef Frank Turchan...

Sponsored Content
college students eating

From Ovention.

Today’s colleges and universities know they should offer more than a large selection of breakfast cereals in the morning and chicken tenders at lunch to appeal to students. When it comes to what’s trending on campuses, here’s a look at what directors can tune into to boost engagement.

1. Expanded dining hours

Late-night options have long been a popular fixture on college campuses, but if it’s too late, students often choose to venture to off-campus retailers to satisfy their cravings. According to Technomic’s 2017 College & University Consumer Trend...

FSD Resources