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

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