Second Annual "The Best..."

Health & Wellness

Use of “stealth health” in our operation
Cisco cafés nationwide introduced a new turkey burger. It consists of ground turkey, quinoa, spinach and seasonings. Not only is it much healthier, but it also appeals to our gluten-free guests.
—Cara Brechler, marketing manager for Bon Appétit, Cisco, Milpitas, Calif.

The best healthy dessert we’ve developed
Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies. The recipe actually came from Hardin County, Ky. We eventually made the recipe whole grain, although it already had oats in it. The ingredients also include dried cranberries. It is made at our central kitchen and it was “named” by our maintenance supervisor there. We have had a difficult time getting affordable dried cranberries lately, but when we menu it the kids like it.
—Julia Bauscher, director of child nutrition services, Jefferson County Schools, Louisville, Ky.

Healthy tweak to a traditional menu item we’ve made in the past year
We make a peanut butter banana vegan cupcake with peanut butter frosting that is really delicious. It has about half of the fat content as many of our other cupcakes.
—Todd Christopherson, dining manager, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Wellness promotion we’ve done in the past year
Foodservice employees did a walking across Oregon promotion where they wore pedometers and earned prizes as incentives. We encouraged participants to walk 50,000 steps per week to make it across the state in 10 weeks.
—Gitta Grether-Sweeney, director of nutrition services, Portland Public Schools, Portland, Ore.

The best wellness program I’ve seen
Apollo Group in Phoenix’s Healthy Living Revolution. It is an employee-driven, grassroots wellness program that is far more effective, in terms of both participation and ROI. I really like what our LifeWorks culinary team—in conjunction with the corporate team from Apollo—is doing to promote healthy eating, education and exercise. One of the things being done is Eat with Joe. Joe is the president and COO. Eat with Joe was a concept that allows customers to eat healthy each day by essentially eating what Joe eats, or Joe’s Pick—and essentially losing weight as Joe did since he ate Joe’s Pick every day. There is a sign above the destination for that day that is showcasing Joe’s Pick.
—Steve Norgren, vice president of business development, Aramark Business Services, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Outside resource for wellness I’ve used
The California Food Policy Advocates in Oakland. They have really nice staff who are always available to help and are full of knowledge.
—Billy Reid, director of child nutrition services, Salida Union School District, Salida, Calif.

The Best_Cooks Corner Healthy menu item we serve
We started incorporating a tofu option into our Cook’s Corner station in our retail operation. The Cook’s Corner features a chef preparing meals to order Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. We offer tofu as a meat substitute on almost all of our offerings. For example, if we are serving chicken Caesar salads made to order we offer tofu as a substitute for the chicken. Out of 200 orders we do approximately 40 tofu substitutions. Some other entrées we offer tofu as a substitute are gyros, Buffalo chicken wrap, ancho chicken salad and many more.
—Greg Merkle, manager of food and nutrition services, Morristown Medical Center, Morristown, N.J.

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More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
trail mix

We’ve added fueling stations in our units for our workers who didn’t have time to eat or just need a snack. We have areas set up with trail mix, crackers, cookies and water. It helps us avoid people feeling or getting ill, especially when we get closer to exam periods and student workers are studying and not taking the time to eat.

Menu Development
quinoa bowl

In a time of growing health consciousness, it might not be enough anymore for food to be merely filling. According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report , diners are looking for food with a function, such as those with high protein content, immunity-boosting properties, antioxidants, probiotics and more. The data suggests 63% of consumers see these foods as healthier than those without any specific nutritional function—and would be more likely to buy them.

But are those stated preferences translating on an operational level? There, the answer is less clear. Baby...

Ideas and Innovation
reusable coffee cup thermos

We were inspired by a book titled “Influence” to start a sustainable cup program called My Cup. All 15,000 new students receive a reusable cup with their name on it, which they can use at the dining halls. Personalizing helps them invest in the program and actually use it.

Menu Development
ranch dressing chicken fingers

While salad bars are often the first place K-12 operators look to incorporate more fresh produce, few go as far as making their own salad dressings. But last fall, in a continuing effort to transition from prepackaged meals to an all-scratch menu, Mark Augustine, executive chef of culinary and nutrition services for Minneapolis Public Schools, switched to concocting four varieties in-house—ranch, Caesar, Italian and Asian vinaigrette. The move, designed to eliminate artificial ingredients and lower fat and sodium, presented the biggest challenge when it came to ranch dressing, the school-...

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