What’s in vogue in education

Health, wellness and global flavors were among some of the topics that filtered to the top of the latest trends report from Y-Pulse, a division of research and consulting firm Olson Communications. Assessing how the tastes of the under-22 crowd are shaping the menus of tomorrow, the study has examined foodservice trends in the K-12 and college/university education segments for the past 10 years. The report is based upon feedback from multiple foodservice directors and students across the studied segments. Key findings include:

  • The idea of hiding healthy ingredients is going by the wayside—full disclosure and allergen awareness are taking on greater importance.
  • Even when it comes to snacking, millennial consumers want fresh and healthy snacks—83% considered healthfulness an important quality for their snacks.
  • 82% of colleges and universities stated that their campus has a wellness policy or program in place. Of the other 18% that did not have a formal policy, 45% said a program was pending.
  • Successful wellness programs in colleges and universities take a holistic approach including health services, athletics, recreational sports, counseling and residential life, as well as foodservice.
  • 72% of foodservice directors said they would like a new item of cooking equipment—37% of those specifically identified a combi oven.
  • 95% of foodservice directors in colleges said they use social media to connect with customers; 85% said social media tools are very important or important for promoting their venues.
  • 42% of K-12 directors noted that they were seeing more lunches being brought to school; 37% noted that the lunches often contained less healthful choices and items no longer allowed to be served in school serving lines.
  • 58% of K-12 foodservice directors say that almost all of their students expect to see ethnic foods on the menu.
  • Latin, Mediterranean and Asian flavors have been the top three ethnic cuisines for many years, but foods from the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa are gaining interest, such as dates and za’atar.
  • When college students were asked about the factors that are most important when buying food and beverages, the top three were a simple ingredient statement, a company known for ethical practices and sustainability.

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The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., will soon switch over from magnetic strip-based student ID cards to chip-based ones, The Observer reports.

Along with being more secure, the new cards will allow students easier access to dining halls, enabling them to simply tap their cards on a reader to gain entrance. Students will also be able to add flex points and Domer Dollars—which can be used at eateries on and off campus—to their accounts via a mobile app.

The new cards are expected to be available by the time school begins next fall.

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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...

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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.

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