25 Wellness Tips

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

Help customers to make the right decision: We really want the healthy choice to be made by the students, so we focus on putting the information out there but not forcing it on them. Our Zoutrition program offers all of the nutritional information for our recipes online, which can also be accessed via a mobile app. The system allows students to build their meals and know what they are consuming. They can also filter by allergen or other dietary needs like vegetarian and vegan meals. The app version of this has been incredibly successful — in August it was downloaded around 6,000 times. We don’t want to put nutrition information too much in their faces because there is some research that shows that can have an adverse effect, such as on students with eating disorders. Everyone has his/her own definition of healthy, so the best we can do is provide education on the basics and then allow them to make their own decisions.

—Michael Wuest, marketing manager, University of Missouri, Columbia

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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.

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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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