The Big Idea 2013

Aquaponics, trayless dining, closed-loop oil system and seven more big ideas.

Green Certification for Schools
Flik Independent School Dining, Rye Brook, N.Y.

We began exploring Green Restaurant Certification for our school accounts in 2004. It started because of a conversation with one of our clients, who said, “Besides athletics, you are the biggest user of energy on my campus. So anything you can do to cut down on energy consumption and reduce costs would be very helpful.” Well, we had just started looking into Green Restaurant Certification, so I was able to tell him that there was a program that could help. He became our pilot account. We currently have 26 locations participating. Nineteen are certified, and we are adding four more as we speak. Five of them have gotten additional stars from the Green Restaurant Association.

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More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

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
chalkboard

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
raised garden beds

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
chartwells teaching kids

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.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

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