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 http://healthyim.syr.edu.

 

 

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Noncommercial foodservice operations and other employers would be spared from costly new overtime pay regulations if 21 states succeed in the legal challenge they jointly filed yesterday.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to set aside the rules, which are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1.

If the court rejects the request, restaurants and other businesses will be required after that date to pay overtime to any salaried employee who works more than 40 hours in a week and earns less than $47,476 on an annual basis.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

The new unpaid-balance policy at Canon-McMillan School District in Pittsburgh is making waves after a former cafeteria worker sounded off about the practice on social media.

Stacy Koltiska said she quit her job with the district after being forced to take hot meals away from students who owed lunch money, CBS News reports .

Under a new policy that was implemented at Canon-McMillan this year, students whose lunch debt exceeds $25 are not allowed to receive a hot lunch. Children in grades K-6 are given a sandwich in its place, and older students receive no lunch. A recent...

Industry News & Opinion

Due to low participation in its lunch program, Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio, is raising the price of school meals this year, Patch.com reports .

The cost of school lunches will see a 30-cent increase, half of which is being enacted to cover the district’s budget. The other half is being required by the government to cover the cost of free and reduced-price lunches provided to low-income families. Prior to this year, the district had not raised prices since 2009.

The district’s cafeterias have experienced a decline in student participation since implementing the...

Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...

FSD Resources