SAS Institute Silver Plate

SAS Institute, reportedly one of the best companies to work for in the country, is a leading software provider. So it's no surprise that the operating systems in the food and nutrition services department are cutting edge—albeit the serving line in the 15-year-old main cafe is straight-line rather than the more up-to-date scatter system. All information, including procedures, menus, nutrition breakouts and catering request forms, are on the department's Web page—and the f/s Web site is the most visited internal site on the company's intranet.

But providing the touch-feely, "old-fashioned" aspects of running an operation serving more than 2,200 daily lunchtime customers in five cafes is f/s manager Julienne (Julie) Stewart, RD, and her staff of 80 (i.e., approx. 60 FTEs and 20 PTEs). Implementing the company philosophy for employees to be comfortable and productive at work, especially since so many work long hours, Stewart aims to provide good food at a good price at numerous venues.

Her department also:

• Runs a successful home-meal replacement program, generating $22,000 annually.

• Provides meals for the 225 children enrolled in the on-site day care center and snacks for the 65 break rooms across campus;

• Catering for a growing number of functions.

• Provides a pianist who does food prep in the morning and plays a variety of soothing music at lunchtime.

'Leftover Sale': "Home-meal replacement, or Food To Go, is something we've been doing before it was the 'in' thing to do. For the past 15 years we've called it 'Leftover Sale' and the name lingers on. Now people sign up on the Web instead of a sign-up sheet at the register on Monday mornings. We plan on it for certain items such as meatloaf, mashed potatoes and broccoli. It accounts for 5% of sales," Stewart notes.

The day care center receives meals prepared in the catering kitchen (located in the largest cafeteria), a five-minute drive away. Menus are planned with input from the teachers who serve the kids family-style.

"For the 65 full-service break rooms on campus—located on every floor in every building—we provide treats free-of-charge three times a week: fresh fruit on Mondays, M&Ms on Wednesdays and doughnuts or bagels for Fridays. It comes out of our budget so we do try to control the expense through our selections."

For Stewart, on the job at SAS for the past 14 years, providing training as well as employing autistic adults in the dish rooms are prime areas of personal satisfaction.

Monthly training is provided for all f/s employees, with ServSafe certification offered to supervisors and group leaders. Currently, 32 employees are certified. The department serves as a preceptor site for dietetic interns—usually five each year—from Meredith College and North Carolinas Central Univ.

"Working with Division TEACCH, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, two of our dish rooms are staffed with autistic adults. They're very dedicated and love what they're doing. They are SAS employees, plus there's a job coach in each dish room from TEACCH to keep them on track. We've learned a lot since we've had them," Stewart notes.