What You Need To Know: November 2013

This month: all-beef burgers are booted in Fairfax schools, guacamole and chips are a hit at Northwestern University, Metz's Live Well program adds whole grains into its concept and more.

Published in FSD Update

> Metz’s Live Well program goes “grain”y

Metz Culinary Management, based in Dallas, Pa., has expanded the depth of its Live Well nutrition program by introducing a whole-grains initiative into the concept. The initiative, which includes recipes and point-of-sale materials, was rolled out in Metz’s corporate, university and healthcare accounts, with an expansion into the K-12 market planned for later this year.

Ryan McNulty, director of culinary development, says the foodservice management firm partnered with one of its vendors to introduce new products and create recipes around those items. The goal was to make the nutrition program stronger for vegetarians and vegans.

The items include wild rice, bulgur, quinoa, wheat berries, kamut, sprouted brown rice and an orzo blend. McNulty and his team came up with a number of recipes for dishes like composed salads and breakfast parfaits.

“We even came up with a quesadilla that has all the traditional ingredients, but we add about one cup of quinoa spread around the quesadilla,” McNulty says.

The recipes were sent out to unit managers with this note: “Whole grains are a wonderful answer to the nutritional puzzle posed by a vegetarian or vegan diet. They have amazing nutritional profiles, and they also provide a hearty base for entrées, soups, salads, parfaits and desserts.”

“We offered [operators] recipes,” McNulty adds, “but we also told them to treat the grains like a blank canvas and use them as they would any regular rice or pasta.”

He notes that customer feedback thus far has been positive, but he cautioned that he has “a lot more work to do” to make the program stronger and to prepare it for the K-12 market.

> 15,655

The number of orders of guacamole and chips that were ordered in the first year of operation of Fontera Fresco on the campus of Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill. The Rick Bayless concept is the only such location on a college campus. Students can customize their guac with toppings including toasted pepitas, spicy roasted peppers, bacon and sun-dried tomatoes. The location also offers tacos, tortas, quesadillas and tamales. Like other Bayless dining locations, Northwestern’s concept purchases much of its produce, cheese and proteins from sources located within 100 miles of campus. 

> All-beef burgers booted in Fairfax Schools

Last year Fairfax County Public Schools, in Virginia, eliminated its 27-ingredient hamburger in favor of an all-beef product. The problem: Students didn’t like the 100% beef burger. Penny McConnell, the district’s food and nutritional service director, said students didn’t like the look or taste of the all-natural burger, according to The Washington Post. Now a 26-ingredient burger has replaced the all-beef version. “Students are our customers and we listen to them and implement their requests if possible,” McConnell said. 

> 3.1 million

The reduction during a seven-week trial period in the amount of M&Ms consumed by Google’s New York office after the candy was put in opaque containers. Healthier snacks like dried fruits and nuts were displayed in glass jars. The tech company was hoping to effect healthier snacking patters for its 2,000 employees in the Big Apple.

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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.

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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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Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

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