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.

At Texas Christian University, food management giant Sodexo responded to students’ requests for dedicated grab-and-go options with a concept called Simply To Go. The new station, part of the campus’s Sub Connection on the east side of campus, sells packaged sandwiches, salads, wraps, fruit cups and baked goods for takeout. According to Legia Abato, district marketing manager for Sodexo at this campus, the concept satisfies a need for students to get a quick meal, using their meal plans, when they are far from the university’s Market Square dining commons.

At Washington State University, Dining Services is building portable business through the Internet. Students here can order pizza from the campus’s Stonewall Pizza Express through wsu.webfood.com. Then they can either have the pizza delivered to their location or come pick it up. A similar concept is Webfood Fresh Express, whereby students can order sandwiches, salads or desserts online and pick them up at a special takeout area of the university’s espresso bar.
Dining Services Director Gary Coyle says the idea is slowly picking up steam, with the department promoting it online and through the campus newspaper.

Perhaps the most unusual option for portable food, at least on a college campus, are the food trucks found on the campus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. According to Director of Dining Services Scott Berlin, there are four independent operators who have contracted with his department. Most recently, a food truck called the Clover Food Lab made its campus debut. This truck brings the idea of local and sustainable to portability; the menu is vegetarian and uses locally grown ingredients.

The future of portability may lie in a rare concept that could be the ultimate in convenience: an automated c-store. At South Bend Memorial Hospital in Indiana, the foodservice department has installed a self-service kiosk in its Common Grounds Café, a 300-square-foot convenience store. The checkout kiosk reads items for purchase using Radio Frequency Identification tags. Foodservice Director Joe Vasta says the goal of the kiosk is not to build revenue but to save labor—about $100,000, he estimates. However, he says sales will increase because the c-store is open 24 hours, so late shift employees will have access to food in a way they never had before.

For more information on South Bend’s c-store, see FSD’s April 15, 2009 issue.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

“Word of mouth is getting out, and every day I get a few more people,” Ryan Carlson, a cook at the...

Sponsored Content
gluten free diet

From Stouffer’s.

A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

Industry News & Opinion

Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

FSD Resources