25 Wellness Tips

We spoke to operators to get 25 tips from their successful health and wellness programs.

Color code for easy guidance: The biggest impact for us has been expanding our color-coding system. We color code everything green, yellow or red based on its nutritional content. We also color code gluten-free items with blue. It gives everyone an easy reference point. We do it everywhere now, not just the utensils on the serving line. There are colored dots on the packaging for grab-and-go items and the menu items on our digital display board are written in green, yellow, red or blue. There are also handouts all over the café that show what all the colors mean from a nutritional standpoint.

—Damian Monticello, corporate hospitality services manager, Florida Blue, Jacksonville, Fla.  

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Ideas and Innovation
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On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
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We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
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We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
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Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

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