Successful Sustainable Meal Plans

Gone are the days of all you care to eat at Mary Baldwin College, a Chartwells account in Staunton, Va. Students now can only purchase a Sustainable Meal Plan option.

So what is a Sustainable Meal Plan? Rather than preparing and offering a variety of foods for students to choose as much as they’d like, under the Sustainable Meal Plan, students can choose only one entrée item and two sides from the main serving area in the dining hall. They then may add to their plates from a variety of self-service stations that surround the entrée area.

The new meal plan was started after an event during which food intake and waste were monitored and reported for student awareness. Reducing the number of options for students has allowed the university not only to educate students about proper portion sizes and encourage healthy choices but also to reduce food waste, cut food costs and improve food quality. “We’re trying to help with the overeating issue that you see in colleges and universities,” explains Michael Clay, executive chef at Mary Baldwin. “And what’s great about it is that it’s a complete meal and helps cut down on cost.”

The new format “allows us to use a lot better components to the dish,” Clay continues, so food quality is “a lot more like a restaurant” and fresh items are a central focus. “We try to do completely from scratch as much as possible,” he explains, and the sustainable meal plan option “allows for more fresh items.” The two main serving lines are supported by all-you-care-to-eat stations offering fresh items from a Chef’s Table, a salad bar, a vegan and vegetarian station and a seasonal soup bar. 

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
spilled coffee beans glasses

Following an initial test at the end of May, Starbucks announced that more than 500 of its stores will be pouring nitro coffee by the end of summer. Capitalizing on the cold-brew coffee trend—which reached $7.9 million in sales in 2015 on 115% growth from the previous year, according to researcher Mintel—select U.S. cafes will give up the counter space to serve the creamy, nitrogen-infused java made from the cold-brew base. But how did nitro become the hottest new thing in coffee?

Bringing the bar to coffeehouses

It was the chrome double tap, similar to a bar’s beer tap, and the...

Ideas and Innovation
tray number

We created lucky tray days to help create an experience surrounding our brand. The trays are numbered; we pick a number and the winner receives a free lunch. We’ve enlisted the help of one of our coaches, who calls out the random lucky winner, and it drums up a lot of excitement.

Menu Development
recipe revamp chicken soup

As a continuous care retirement community, The Garlands of Barrington in Illinois provides daily foodservice to 270 independent living and skilled nursing care residents, with the majority of sodium restrictions coming from the latter, says Executive Chef Nicola Torres. Instead of cooking two versions of chicken noodle soup—a favorite offered at least twice a week—he reworked his recipe into a flavorful lower-sodium version that appeals to all. “Everybody eats soup, so I created a homemade stock that uses no salt at all, ramping up the flavor with fresh herbs and plenty of vegetables,...

Ideas and Innovation
bus advertising jagermeister

Because many locals use the bus system, we paid for some full bus wraps to advertise [job openings within] our dining services program. The buses go all over campus where students can see them, and to apartments where the public can see them. To top it off, the cost wasn’t much more than newspaper rates.

FSD Resources