Chicago business provides made-from-scratch meals to local schools

Gourmet Gorilla sources from mostly Midwest vendors, including pasta from Wisconsin, meat from Michigan, organic vegetables from Growing Home and more.

CHICAGO—At first glance, Gourmet Gorilla's industrial kitchen in River North looks like any other, with oversized pots and pans, a whirl of aproned workers and rubber-matted floors. But check out the ingredients: Every weekday, founders Danielle Hrzic and Jason Weedon churn out 10,000 made-from-scratch meals for children in 90 Illinois and Wisconsin schools from locally grown, organic produce.

What's more, their business of providing family-style meals to school kids is part of a grander mission to bring the farm closer to the table by buying from urban growers.

The married couple had two inspirations. The first was urban farm pioneer Harry Rhodes, executive director of Growing Home, Chicago's first U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic farm. The other was the processed food their older son was served when he began preschool. The food coloring and preservatives were not what they wanted him to eat.

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The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., will soon switch over from magnetic strip-based student ID cards to chip-based ones, The Observer reports.

Along with being more secure, the new cards will allow students easier access to dining halls, enabling them to simply tap their cards on a reader to gain entrance. Students will also be able to add flex points and Domer Dollars—which can be used at eateries on and off campus—to their accounts via a mobile app.

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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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gluten free diet

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A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

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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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