Nutritional home run

FSD says goodbye to coverage on sports venues, cruise ships and more.

FoodService Director magazine no longer typically reports on foodservice in such venues as sports stadiums and arena, amusement parks, cruise ships and state and national parks.

With limited resources, in terms of staff and magazine pages, it didn’t make sense to give space to what are really commercial restaurants operating in spaces contracted out to foodservice providers. The bottom line is, there is really little comparison between what a management company can do at a ball park or football stadium and what a foodservice staff at a 200-bed hospital does.

However, sometimes there occurs at one of these venues something so noteworthy that I can’t let it go unmentioned. Aramark did that last week when, at Coors Field in Denver, it opened what the company believes is the first concession stand to sell only gluten-free items.

The stand is located on the left field concourse and sells hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, chips, cookies, soda, water, and even Redbridge, a gluten-free beer. In making the choice to open the stand at Coors, it probably didn’t hurt that Aramark’s chef at this account, Rik Keissling, suffers from celiac disease.

Aramark has been active in promoting awareness of celiac disease for a while now. For example, the week before the gluten-free stand opened at Coors, The company hosted its second Celiac Awareness Night at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Several groups involved with celiac disease attended the game and Aramark set up a special gluten-free concession area at the ballpark.

Aramark certainly isn’t alone in beginning to respond to the dietary needs of sufferers of gluten allergies. Other stadiums and arenas around the country offer some gluten-free foods. But the Philadelphia-based conglomerate certainly has taken the lead in this area, both in action and in promotion. A dedicated stand means that fans with celiac disease don’t have to wander the stadium hoping that the stand they visit will have foods they can eat.

In a market where most customers believe profits reign supreme—and it’s hard to argue the point when you see some of the menu prices in stadiums and arenas—it’s easy to simply consider the action to be sound business, nothing more. And obviously Aramark executives hope that such a move will help increase business.

Nevertheless, it is a step the company has taken willingly, not by force of law, and Aramark deserves the positive publicity it will receive from this action.

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