Managing Your Business: August 2013

Published in FSD Update

N.J. Hospital Takes Over MOW Contract, Williston State College Plans $11 Million Renovation and more.

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The increase in the price of a foodservice health permit for Saint Paul Public Schools, in Minnesota. The price hike comes after the state departments of health and agriculture took over inspections of city businesses and restaurants, according to the Pioneer Press. For decades, the city of Saint Paul had performed the service. Jean Ronnie, director of nutrition services for the district, says she has contacted the state to receive confirmation regarding the cost of a license, but she hasn’t been able to confirm the price spike.

> Williston State College Plans $11 Million Renovation

Williston State College, in North Dakota, will undergo an $11.6 million reconstruction of its Teton Grill dining facility this fall. This is the first renovation at the college in nearly 40 years, and it’s long overdue: In the past 18 months, the town’s population has doubled from 12,000 to 24,000. “Right now I work in a space that’s 20 feet by 35 feet,” Teton Grill Manager Holly Cummins says. “We serve 300 meals a day or better out of our dining services—it hasn’t been remodeled since 1979.”

Cummins says the lack of space has forced her to all but discourage members of the community from visiting her kitchen in recent years. Space has been a precious commodity in Williston ever since an oil boom several years ago brought an influx of new residents, raising the average rent on a two-bedroom apartment to around $2,500 a month.

“I want to bring my people back. I miss my local people,” Cummins says. “I love my college students, but I want my next generation to come in and eat with their parents and hang out at this place.” Once the renovations are complete, Cummins estimates the new facility should be able to serve an additional 300 people a day.

The new location will feature an open kitchen with a pasta bar and a larger seating area.

> N.J. Hospital Takes Over MOW Contract

Last year, the foodservice team at Newton Medical Center, in New Jersey, was asked by the Sussex County Meals on Wheels program to bid on its services. Greg Merkle, manager of food and nutrition at the 100-bed hospital, agreed and the hospital took over meal preparation in November 2012 under a one-year contract.

In addition to providing additional revenue for the foodservice department, the contract has enabled Newton to become more active in the community. It hasn’t hurt on the P.R. front either; Merkle
says participation in the program is up and the hospital is getting rave reviews for its food.

“The contract used to be managed by a nursing home,” Merkle explains. “We were excited to be given the opportunity to bid because we are always looking for ways to be involved in the community.”

Newton is currently preparing about 200 meals a day, in bulk, for the program, which serves four congregate meal sites in addition to about 80 shut-ins. The local arm of Catholic Charities picks up the food and takes it to a distribution site where it is either sent on to the congregate sites or portioned into trays for delivery to homes.

“We’ve been told that since we began preparing meals, participation in the community has increased by almost 30%,” Merkle says. “We have received rave reviews from recipients thanking us for providing food with fresh ingredients that is also nutritious.”

Aside from the income, Merkle adds that “it just felt like the right thing to do. A lot of the meal recipients are also our patients from time to time.” He expects the contract to be renewed.