Beverages: From the tap

Directors push tap water because of its economical advantages.

Published in FSD Update

What if there were a way to decrease beverage costs, improve customer health and positively impact the environment? Many operators are doing exactly that with tap water initiatives. Take it from Tara Sanders, R.D., dietitian at Oregon State University (OSU), in Corvallis, who recently implemented a student-led tap water program called Fresh From the Faucet.

In an attempt to make tap water the top beverage choice, all dining centers, retail locations and catering services offer tap water in ice dispensers, and all water fountains have been retrofitted with water bottle fillers. Students were also given free reusable water bottles. Sanders reports dispensing more than 8,000 gallons of tap water annually, and a 10% decline in bottled beverage and fountain sales each year.

Infusion inspiration

OSU’s program also includes flavored tap water stations, where dispensers offer water infused with ingredients like citrus and cucumber. “A little flavor goes a long way, so expense is minimal,” Sanders explains. “Have fun and be creative with infusions of fruits and herbs that are fitting for the season.”

Laura Lapp, director of nutrition for Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services, agrees. Lapp also has implemented tap water infusions using a seemingly endless combination of fruits, vegetables and herbs (lemon-cucumber-mint, orange-cranberry and cantaloupe-strawberry, to name a few), which get layered with ice in clear glass reusable containers and topped with tap water—an eye-catching visual, which not only creates a fun dining experience but also an environmentally friendly alternative to bottled water.

“Guests can now enjoy refreshing, calorie-free, sugar-free and caffeine-free beverages,” she says.

Branding

The key to a successful program lies in branding. For example, Sanders placed the program’s logo on the free water bottles that were distributed and also employs maps where students can find filtered water on campus and strategically placed branded posters, clings and stickers near water fountains and stations.

Michael Rosenberger, director of food and nutrition services for the Irving Independent School District, in Texas, can relate. Rosenberger recently branded all of his school’s water fountains with their own unique image, including a professional graphics placard, information about water and its health benefits.

“We wanted to try and make drinking tap water a cool thing, and offering tap water from water fountains was the most economical and socially acceptable option,” says Rosenberger, who admits that spills from water pitchers created a safety hazard for students. “Our signs increase the appeal of regular drinking water, and some fun facts help educate our children regarding the importance of drinking water on a regular basis.”

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
smoothie

Nurses often mention that at 2 p.m. they are dragging and just trying to get through their 12-hour shift. This winter I will be implementing a 2 p.m. pick-me-up, which will include a smoothie station where they can create their own smoothie to help get them through their shift. It will be filled with energy-boosting ingredients to personalize their own drink, such as bananas, almonds, spinach and even dark chocolate.

Ideas and Innovation
chili

Winter is when our guests frequently crave something comforting and hearty, and chili is great for that. Our plan is to boost guest engagement this winter by inviting them to design a unique chili experience. The guest chooses the type of chili first, then the vessel: bowl, bread or potato. Next, they customize their dish even further by choosing the toppings, which will be categorized as traditional, creamy, crunch or heat. The wild card, crunch and heat categories, are where my team and I will flex our creativity and highlight different flavors, ingredients or techniques.

Ideas and Innovation
new year party

In search of inspiration for this letter, I turned to the one I wrote for January 2017, in which I griped about some trends I wanted to toss in the new year. Twelve months later, the Sriracha trend has calmed down, food trucks seem slightly less pervasive and, while the definition of “clean” eating continues to evolve, it’s not so laser-focused on GMOs. So it seems my predictions were correct, including the one about where I’d be eating on New Year’s Day (though I had no clue my now-fiance would propose to me that night over duck noodle soup).

However, since this year has been...

Industry News & Opinion

Dining hall workers at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., have been asked to remove stickers worn in protest of working conditions at the school’s dining halls, The Stanford Daily reports.

School officials say that the stickers with the statement “Respect and a Fair Workload” go against a union-university agreement that states union members may not wear “insignia [with] any message that is vulgar, profane, or disparaging of Stanford, or that results in conflict or disruption in the workplace.”

In a conversation with The Daily, Seth Leibson, senior organizer for SEIU...

FSD Resources