Five Questions for: David George

Going a day without meat, be it Monday or not, is catching on at many foodservice operations. David George, director of food services at 19,600-student Syracuse University in New York, and his department have been working with the Healthy Monday initiative to implement Meatless Mondays. He spoke to FSD about how this initiative promotes a reduced-meat lifestyle and highlights the department’s extensive vegan and vegetarian daily offerings.

David George, Five Questions, Syracuse University, Meatless Mondays

How did the Meatless Mondays program get started?

Meatless Monday is an international campaign to raise awareness about preventable diseases linked to eating meat. SU Food Services works with Healthy Monday on other projects. Meatless Monday is our most recent collaboration. Meatless Monday is a means by which we can make students aware that incorporating more plant-based foods and eating less meat may help prevent chronic disease. We have always had a strong vegan and vegetarian line in our dining centers, so this was easy to incorporate. We have meatless options available every day at every meal.

What else is involved with the Healthy Monday program?

Healthy Monday is a public health initiative founded in 2005 in association with Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and Syracuse University. The goal is to help leverage Mondays as a way to prompt and sustain healthy behavior. Anyone can use the Healthy Monday concept. Our registered dietitian works with Healthy Monday to bring education to our dining centers. It can be anything from Meatless Monday to physical activity or getting enough sleep.

What was involved with implementing the program?

We displayed Healthy Monday information in our dining centers. We instituted a “Try Me!” program that introduces a new grain, fruit or vegetable each month. We also focused our National Nutrition Month efforts on educating students about the benefits of incorporating more plant-based foods into their diet. We’ve prepared items such as broccoli chow mein, four-bean casserole, couscous and feta salad, whole-wheat shells and cheese, mushroom quiche, barbecue tempeh, sesame pasta with tofu, ravioli with creamy spinach sauce, sweet potato bake, tempeh à la king, almond curry couscous and vegetable enchiladas.

What were some of the biggest challenges involved with implementing the program?

One challenge was getting students to understand that Meatless Monday isn’t just for vegetarians or vegans. Everyone can reap the health benefits of incorporating more plant-based foods into his or her diet. We also wanted students to know that we serve meatless options every day, not just Monday.

What advice would you give to other operators who might want to do something similar?

Make your educational efforts interactive. In addition to posting our “Try Me!” posters, we created some recipes using the item of the month and feature those in the dining centers. We ask students to try the new item and give us feedback. Some of our “Try Me!” items include adzuki beans, quinoa, wheat berries, sweet potatoes, buckwheat, cranberries, millet, pigeon peas, edamame, beets and arugula. When we develop our “Try Me!” ideas we ask students for their opinions through our Web site or during Meatless Monday, during which we have surveys students can fill out to let us know what they think of an item and what items they may like to see in the future.

For more info on Healthy Monday, visit



More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
sushi plate

We wanted to add sushi, but that’s not really my expertise. So we found a great local company that offered to put three sushi chefs on-site every day. They supply the ingredients, and if we meet the minimum revenue each week, than we receive a percentage of sales. We have been exceeding the weekly minimum sales, which we track in our POS, in two days.

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
star wars storm trooper

My favorite event—because I’m kind of dorky—is our “May the fourth be with you” (aka “Star Wars”) day on May 4. The whole dining team dresses up, and we offer things like Chewbaklava, Boba Fettuccine and BB-8 Buckeyes. We had a guest cry because they got to take a picture with Chewy.

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,...

FSD Resources